§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Wheatley)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The House listened with great patience while, at considerable length and in great detail, I dealt with the main provisions of this Bill when moving the Money Resolution quite recently, and I feel, therefore, that I would be meeting the wishes of the House if today I confined myself to explaining generally the contents of the Bill, and perhaps dealing with the reasoned Amendment which the Opposition have put upon the Paper. The Bill proposes to amend the financial provisions of the Housing Act, 1923, and is for other purposes. It consists of nine Clauses and two Schedules. Sections 1, 3 and 4 of the Housing Act, 1923, provide for a subsidy being paid on houses conforming to the conditions laid down in that Act and completed before the 1st October next year, or, in exceptional cases, the 1st June, 1926. Clause 1 of this Bill extends that period for 15 years, from the 1st October this year, and cancels the other dates. Paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 1 of the 1923 Act puts an obligation on a local authority to satisfy the Minister of Health that private enterprise cannot provide the houses required for its area before he can contribute towards any expenses incurred by the local authority in providing the houses itself. Subsection (2) of Clause 1 of this Bill frees the local authority from that obligation.
Clause 2 of this Bill provides that the subsidy payable to a local authority, whether in providing houses itself or in assisting private enterprise through a society, body of trustees, or a company within the meaning of the 1923 Act, shall be increased from £6 for twenty years to 29 for forty years, and in an agricultural parish by a further £3 10s. if the houses comply with certain special conditions as to letting, rent, and so forth. If the houses do not comply with these conditions, they will be entitled only to 88 the smaller subsidy of the 1923 Act. There are minor alterations in the provisions governing the national contribution which I need not elaborate. An agricultural parish is defined as one in which the net annual value of the agricultural land exceeds one-third of the total annual value of the parish and in which the population is less than 35 persons per 100 acres. The Minister of Health is to decide any question as to whether a parish is or is not an agricultural parish. Any houses erected in an agricultural parish by a county council or certain other bodies for persons in their employment or paid by them or by a Statutory Committee, such as houses for the police, shall not have the higher subsidy, but shall be subject to the ordinary subsidy. The provisions of this Bill will be retrospective to cover houses approved after 1st February this year. I felt, in framing these proposals, that it would not be fair to reward any local authority which had withheld building in anticipation of this Bill.
Clause 3 contains the special conditions which must be complied with to justify the higher subsidy. The houses must be let to tenants who intend to reside therein The tenant shall not sub-let without the written consent of the local authority, and the local authority shall not sell without the consent of the Minister of Health. A fair wage Clause shall be inserted in all building contracts. There is a stipulation as to the rents to be charged. They are to be the rents now charged in the locality for working-class houses erected before the War. It will be remembered that, under the 1919 Act, the rents charged are those at which houses of a similar type were being let in the locality. Here the basis is to be the rents now obtaining for workinig-class houses, although these houses may be inferior to the new houses. Those who fear that lower rents—
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I can only promise the hon. Member that where it does not say so, I will, with his assistance, see that it does say so. Those who fear that lower rents may be a subsidy for low wages should note here that the worker will rot pay less, but he will get more for what he pays. This Clause also provides that 89 where the houses are erected by persons or bodies other than the local authorities the rents to be charged by them shall not exceed the rents that could be charged by the local authority. The local authority is required to contribute £4 10s. per house in so far as this sum is necessary to obtain these normal rents. If the local authority, by reducing building costs by good administration, or otherwise, can secure the objective rents for a smaller contribution, then as an encouragement to, economy it is to benefit within the full extent of its contribution. On the other hand, if prices are allowed to rise beyond where the State and local authority's subsidies will obtain the rents aimed at, the rents will be increased to meet the excess.
Clause 4 provides that if the building industry in the year 1927 or in any third succeeding year has not completed at least two-thirds of the number of houses set opposite to the previous two years in the First Schedule of this Bill, or if a body of independent persons appointed by the Minister of Health reports that the cost of erecting houses is unreasonably high, particular regard being had to how far any increase in cost is due to causes within the control of the industry, then it may be stopped, and the scheme brought to an end.
Clause 5 provides that in the year 1927 and every third succeeding year the Minister of Health, after consultation with the local authorities, may reduce the amount of the subsidy on houses built thereafter in accordance with any fall in prices.
Clause 6 provides that before any Order is made by the Minister, such as an Order based on the industry not doing its bit, a draft of the Order must be laid before the House of Commons and a Resolution passed by this House approving the draft.
Clause 7 provides for certain minor amendments which are to be found in the Second Schedule, the principal of which is that every house must contain a bathroom.
Clause 8 applies the Act to Scotland and contains minor provisions referring to Scotland.
Clause 9 contains the title, citation, and extent of the Act; and in the First Schedule will be found the number of houses to be erected.
90 I hope that these few general words of explanation will be sufficient, with the aid of the discussion we have already had, to give the House a somewhat clear outline of the contents of the Bill. The primary object of the Bill is to secure continuity in the building of working-class houses. I am sure that almost every Member of the House must have been moved at one time or another by the constant appeals which reach us from all sections of the community and from all parts of the country to do whatever is within our power to rescue our people from the housing conditions in which millions of them are submerged to-day. I felt, in framing this Bill, that I should be meeting the feeling of the country if I oould produce a Measure that in its essentials had a reasonable prospect of passing this House as an agreed Measure.
The right hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain), in the course of his speech on the Money Resolution, stated that, although he strongly disagreed with the Bill and did not consider that it would attain its object., he was so strongly convinced of the necessity for continuity of policy in dealing with the housing problem that he felt it would be in the interests of the country if this Bill were passed and this scheme tested. I confess that when I heard that statement by the right hon. Gentleman I had hopes that the housing problem was about to be lifted out of the party arena and that all sections of this House were about to concentrate their combined wisdom on the task of making this Bill the best possible Bill and of inaugurating a crusade in this country which would result in the provision of healthier homes for our people. I must confess, further, that when I found—although the fact presented to my Government and my party a political advantage—that the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman were too noble for the diehards of his own party, I had a considerable feeling of regret. I thought that the tragic problem of the conditions of housing was one on which a lead from a Member of this House who has given so much consideration to it ought to have secured a greater amount of sympathy from the party of which he is such an ornament. May I point out that the essentials of the Bill are a treaty with the building industry, a treaty with the local authorities, and a charter for the tenant.
91 Parliament is asked in the Bill to guarantee financial support for 15 years towards the erection of houses in order to enable the industry to expand its resources in men, materials and finance and to become once more what it ought to be, a powerful pillar of the nation.
The industry, on the other hand, undertakes to provide houses in certain numbers according to a definite programme and at reasonable prices. I emphasised the fact, when speaking on the Money Resolution, that the basis of the agreement with the building industry was the production and delivery of working-class houses. The Amendment states that the proposals in the Bill are insufficient to provide the men required. In other words, it suggests that the building industry, which gives a guarantee of a certain number of houses per annum, does not know how to provide the men essential for the production of that number. May I remind the House of what I said in a former speech, when I pointed out that it would be foolish, in my opinion, to enter into an agreement based on the number of men and apprentices, and that the only safe and sound basis was the delivery of houses. Nevertheless, I want to examine the contention laid down in the Amendment of the Opposition. It may be reasonably asked, why did I proceed on the basis of houses and not on the basis of men? Hon. Members will remember that, in the Report submitted to this House by the building industry, they have it there stated that an agreed scheme for augmenting labour in the building trade has been reached between employers and operatives for the, first time in the history of the industry. I think this Government are entitled to take some credit for having secured that agreement. Previous Governments have tried and failed to produce agreement in the industry, and a scheme which was accepted by the employers with the concurrence of the Government of the day, but without the approval of the operatives in the industry, proved a miserable fiasco.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
My point is that for the first time in the history of the industry this Government has done what 92 probably only a Labour Government could have done: produced an agreement in the industry calculated to provide the nation with the number of houses so urgently required.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
If the right hon. Gentleman will bear with me in the patient manner to which he is always accustomed, I will deal in the course of my speech with the various points he has in his mind. The right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), who is now the outstanding advocate of housing on the other side, suggested that, instead of my adopting this course, I should have forced the industry Willy nilly to accept a certain quantity of unskilled labour. I do not know why he thinks I should have been successful in that way, because if I remember aright the Coalition Government attempted something of the kind and the Coalition Government failed. Why he should expect that I should succeed where they had failed, or that I should believe he would succeed where t hey had failed, passes my imagination and I am sure the imagination of all Members of the House. The right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) went further, I think, than what was in the mind of the right hon. Member for Twickenham, although I do not think he contemplated using force. He hoped by reason and persuasion to induce the industry to accept an augmentation of admit apprentices. I remember quite well he told us that it was not creditable to the nation, or to anyone concerned in the problem, that we should have at the Employment Exchanges in receipt of maintenance doles skilled engineers who, by their previous training, had been partly developed, but that we should take those skilled engineers and by a further process of training convert them into bricklayers. He had it in mind, I think, that that could be done within a very few months, and at the end of that few months the flow of new labour would enable them, more than this Measure, to restore the industry to a healthy state in order to produce the necessary houses.
I want to examine that carefully, coming as it does from the right hon. 93 Member for Rusholme, who I cannot but regard as a sympathetic critic of the proposals before the House. You have first to consider whether or not the engineers would be willing to embark on training for bricklayers. Assuming that they were willing, what are the difficulties in the way? I think the period of training would have to be much longer than is contemplated by my right hon. Friend. I have had some experience on local authorities and have had to deal with unemployed engineers, as I am sure other Members of the House have done. In my capacity as a member of a local authority I have had to employ these engineers on road-making, which is not nearly so skilled an occupation as the business of house-building, and I know that even in that unskilled occupation, and dealing with engineers admitted by their employers to be the most willing and most competent workers in the world, we could not and did not hope to achieve within three or six months the efficiency in road-making which the right hon. Gentleman thinks could be attained in house-building under the scheme that he has in his mind. May I remind the House that during this period of training, which would undoubtedly be longer than the right hon. Gentleman has in view, you would require to pay these skilled engineers the wages of a married man. You could not take a man with a wife and family to maintain and put him on as an apprentice and expect him to work for anything like the wages which it is customary to pay for juvenile labour. There is another very important consideration in this suggested scheme, and it is this, that during the whole period of his training and until he became an efficient bricklayer, he could not be engaged profitably by an employer as a member of a group of bricklayers.
I had a letter sent to me the other day. It was from a building contractor who had read in his local newspaper that I had consented to adopt this policy, and he pointed out to me that in the very nature of the work the output of every bricklayer employed on a job was determined by the slowest bricklayer employed in the group, and that to introduce unskilled or partly-trained men in the mariner indicated into the building industry would add so much to the cost of the houses as to make house building practically an economic impossi- 94 bility. He said that, speaking for himself, rather than accept that as a condition of building houses he would be prepared to retire from that branch of the business altogether. May I also remind the right hon. Gentleman that, after training this engineer with the results I have recounted, the engineer probably at the end of the period would find an opening in his own trade and return to engineering, leaving the builders to take on less qualified men, and thus add to the burden of the building industry. If I had presented to this House a Bill based on such a proposal all the expert advice in this country would have urged Parliament to reject it. Apart from augmentation from the ranks of bricklayers' labourers, and that is a very slow process, we have to rely mainly on augmentation through the channels of apprenticeship. I would remind the House of what anyone familiar with the history of the industry knows, that the number of bricklayers' labourers who become efficient is comparatively small. It is absurd to contend that a bricklayers' labourer of any age is likely through his experience as a labourer to become an efficient bricklayer. Those who do become efficient, it is well known, have been steadily absorbed, and in the scheme submitted to the House by the building industry it is expressly provided that in the immediate future all facilities shall be provided for augmenting the personnel of the industry to its utmost from the skilled bricklayers' labourers who are available in the country.
May I point out further that among the functions of the Committees which I propose to set up this will be a principal one. I accepted an Amendment from the Liberal benches during the discussion of the Money Resolution which lays it down that the subsidy may be withheld in the events of adequate preparation for the supply of materials and men not having been made. The acceptance of that Amendment and the provision of these apprentices make the Committees that I have had in view from the outset more and more important, because the principal duties of these Committees will be to see that the industry is augmented and that the materials are available for the number of houses to be erected in the locality. Not only have the building industry agreed to take in 95 the building labourers, but they have made special provision for rapidly augmenting the skilled labour by the addition of ordinary apprentices. May I remind the House of some of the things they have done. They have raised the age limit from 16 to 20, they have reduced the period of training, which is five years in some branches and more in others, in every case to a maximum of four years, and in some cases it may be reduced to three years. If the industry does not provide the apprentices they cannot possibly produce the houses, and the industry does not produce the houses Parliament is relieved from its obligation, and the money which it is estimated this scheme will cost will temporarily remain in the national pocket.
§ Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON-HICKS
The right hon. Gentleman says Parliament, will be relieved of the obligation if the building trade does not produce the houses, but does that relieve the necessity of the people who Want houses?
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
No, that does not relieve the nation of the necessity, but it puts on the nation an obligation to test this scheme, which is likely to succeed, which the building industry, which has more knowledge of house building than any people in this House could possibly have, say is bound to succeed and which the local authorities through their associations have agreed to promote for all it is worth. Surely a scheme coming forward with these recommendations is not one that this House in the circumstances of this country can lightly overthrow if the day should unfortunately arise, as I do not think it will, when the building industry is not able to redeem its pledge and when Parliament is released, there will be nothing left for the country but to turn in its despair to the servile system of house production advocated by the right hon. Gentleman.
The next point in the Amendment is that the provisions of the Bill will not produce the materials. The Government is leaving the production of materials to private enterprise. [An HON. MEMBER: "Servile?"] No, to private enterprise subject to an agreement with the manufacturers and to the powers which we hope Parliament will give us in the Bill. Further than that we are prepared to use the machinery of the Trade Facilities 96 Committee to develop production. What do hon. Members opposite want us to do? Have they lost faith in private enterprise 7 Do they want the Government to go in for the manufacturing of building materials? Do they want us to adopt a scheme of purchasing and distributing building materials such as we had under the Addison régime, or do they want a scheme of general inspection and control, or has the opposition no policy on this vital national question except that whatever we do is wrong? During the Debate on the Money Resolution I heard a good deal about the la w of supply and demand. Indeed, the right hon. Baronet went the length of placing it in the same category as the law of gravitation. He forgot for the moment that you have restricted rents, that you have maximum rail fares and maximum salaries for Members of Parliament, all of which are against the law of supply and demand. When considering this law of supply and demand why should he always assume that it will be opposed to the proposals of my Bill? I have heard many ludicrous claims made for Toryism in my time but this is the first occasion on which I have heard it assumed that the law of supply and demand was an instrument of the Carlton Club and would only work for wages. When you assume that this law of supply and demand is so violently anti-Socialist that it will not help my proposals, even although they are non-Socialist, I submit that you are assuming too much. Would the right hon. Baronet not be disposed to claim the law of supply and demand as operating on his behalf if he were in my place submitting to the House exactly the same proposals? He would say, "Look at these derelict brickworks with which the country is dotted. Why have they gone out of use? Is it not due to the fact that the irregularity of demand and the fluctuation in industry made it impossible for men to continue year after year to get a return on the money which they had invested in these works? As lack of demand has closed these brickworks, the stability of demand which I am making will restore them to a healthy state.
I have no doubt he would draw an excellent picture of how with an assured market, with steady employment giving steady profits, the capital which is now flowing into investment in foreign parts 97 would find its way into the prevision of more machinery and more capital in these brickfields, would lead to the introduction of more material, to the employment of more men, to the taking of unskilled labour from the Employment Exchanges and drafting them into the healthy production of the materials essential to the building of houses. He would tell us there were no artificial aids required to produce that happy state of affairs, that the law of supply and demand left unaided to operate would show that there was profit in it and would induce these men to prefer home investments, where their money was under their own observation, to the imaginary wells and mines into which their money flows to-day in searching for profits outside the shores of Great Britain. I have no doubt also he would use the very same argument of supply and demand in the production of the men. He would not come forward and tell you that you required to have artificial aid to the production of a certain class of workers. He would say: "No, that is all wrong. Let supply and demand operate freely, and it will get you all the workers you want. When you have guaranteed to an industry that it is sheltered from unemployment for 15 years you require no other aids," he would tell us. In the past you did not obtain apprentices because parents would not put their boys into an industry that offered them irregular employment. The employers would not take on apprentices if they had no assurance that they would have work in the four, five or six years in which they would be training them. This led to unemployment, unemployment led to emigration, and those skilled men went beyond the seas according to the law of supply and demand. But now, when you have changed the basis, the same law of supply and demand that frightened off the apprentices will attract them. The same law of supply and demand that sent the worker across the sea will retain that worker at home. The same law will go further and will bring back to his native land, which he did not require to leave, many of the men who have left it during the period of unemployment. I cannot for the life of me see how the right hon. Gentleman should expect that that law of supply and demand, which he would submit with all that force and reason of which he is such 98 a wonderful master, will refuse to help me, because I am a member of the Labour party. Short of the adoption of a system of nationalisation, the Government has done everything possible and taken every reasonable step to ensure that the production in abundance of the necessary material will be realised in this country, and if there is anything that we have left undone or unprovided for we shall be very pleased to receive suggestions of further steps, no matter what part of the House cares to favour us with them.
Another argument used in the Amendment is that the prorosals tend to increase the cost of production. I think here again I might claim that if sympathetic consideration is given to the contents of the Bill, and the statements which have been made, they show that every possible provision has been made calculated to keep down the cost of house building. May I remind the House what the Bill does? First of all, the builders and the operatives combined are given a very serious interest in keeping down the cost of building because if it gets unreasonably high building will be stopped and they will be left flooded with the additional capital and the additional workers which the augmentation of capital and labour has brought into the industry. The local authorities are given a direct interest in keeping building costs down because any saving, to the extent of £4 10s., which may be effected by a local authority will go entirely, during the period prior to the next revision, to the relief of local rates. The general public are given an interest in keeping down the cost of building because it is laid down in the Bill that if costs are allowed to soar unreasonably high the rents of the houses will be increased, and undoubtedly you cannot in-increase the rents of the houses with a decontrol policy operating at the moment without affecting the rents of all houses in the country.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
Yes, there is a decontrol policy operating at the moment. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is aware that there are tens of thousands of houses which have been exempted from control by the action of the late Government. These houses have been decon- 99 trolled. As a person removes from his house, it passes out of the Rent Restrictions Act. With these conditions prevailing, the general public have an interest in seeing that increase in the cost of house building, which will lead directly to increase in the rents of these houses, does not take place. The local authority has been given power to stop building whenever it pleases, and particularly if the costs are against it. What we had in mind in granting that freedom to the local authority was to ensure that the producers of raw materials in any particular locality would not be free to boost prices and rob the ratepayers and taxpayers who are paying subsidies on these houses.
I have an agreement with the Associated Brickmakers. I was asked if I had an agreement in writing with the building industry, and I said I had none except in the report. As far as the brick manufacturers are concerned, I have a written undertaking from the Society of Brick Manufacturers in regard to brick prices that, whatever be the demand—the law of supply and demand is to have a holiday—they will not in any work controlled by them charge more for bricks than they were charging on 1st January, 1924. Behind that, I have the drastic powers which I have taken in the other Bill before Parliament. In face of these facts, it baffles my comprehension how hon. Members on the other side can get up seriously and ask the people of this country to believe that these are proposals which tend to increase costs. There never was submitted to this or any other House a scheme so protected as the scheme now submitted for adoption. If there is any further provision or precaution that any hon. Member thinks the Government could possibly have taken, the Government are prepared favourably to consider the suggestion.
Nor is it true to say, as the Amendment says, that these proposals discourage private enterprise. They do nothing of the kind. I stated, in introducing the Financial Resolution, that these proposals were anything but Socialistic proposals. Far from discouraging private enterprise, they actually do more to promote private enterprise than any Measure that has been before this House in recent times. 100 Let me examine what they do. They leave intact the provision of the 1923 Act which gives a subsidy to private enterprise in building houses for sale. Hon. Members opposite will realise that there are many things about that provision with which I disagree and many things that I should have found great difficulty in defending if I were submitting them to the House and subjecting them to criticism; but I took the view, suggested frequently from the other side of the House, that these provisions were producing houses. I want to get houses. The people engaged in the production of these houses for sale had been led by the 1923 Act to expect this subsidy for a period, and I was not, although I dislike the provision, going to step in and reverse a policy which, undoubtedly, was giving houses, although it was not producing houses for that section of the community which I felt was most in need of houses.
I have left private enterprise exactly where I found it in regard to the provision of houses. If I go as far as the right hon. Member for lady wood or the party opposite in regard to private enterprise, I cannot be regarded as an enemy of private enterprise. Do they want me to go further than they did in their provision? Do they want me to give larger subsidies for houses for sale than those which they have provided? I am sure that they do not expect me to do anything of the kind. I had a deputation from the smaller builders during the period of negotiations and they asked me what I intended to do on this particular point. I stated at a very early date that I intended to leave that provision as it was. They were delighted with my decision, and said that I was doing everything that could be expected from a most moderate Member of the House for their particular industry.
I go much further than that. When you are discussing this question of private enterprise, always remember that it is private enterprise that is killing private enterprise to-day. It is not Socialism that kills private enterprise to-day. What is happening to-day is that one section of private enterprise throttles another. As Minister of Health my duties would have been comparatively light, had it not been for keeping the ring for these competing sections. I find that when private enterprise in manu- 101 facture puts up its prices in order to get higher profits and be successful as private enterprise, it chokes off the little builder who depends on cheap production, and the little builder comes to me—I am not exaggerating—with tears in his eyes and asks me to protect him, not against Socialism, but against the private enterprise that is killing him. So as the protector of the small builder, I am the defender of private enterprise and one of its best friends. I am quite frank and honest about it. I have said that this country has accepted private enterprise as a means of carrying out its business. I deplore it, because I think it is out of date and ought to be scrapped, but, at any rate, the country says that we have gone on for a number of years with private enterprise, and I have accepted it. I have come in as a judge of the situation and have tried to act as an honest man amongst these competing people and have tried to do my best for all of them. By promoting a larger market for houses, I am creating a field for private enterprise that it could not possibly have in anything but these proposals. It required Labour proposals, Socialist proposals if you like, in order that private enterprise could get going again.
It is said that by these proposals I am interfering with investments in working-class houses. I say that to-day there is no investment in working-class houses: I can produce evidence from every quarter to show that. When the Birmingham deputation was before me I asked, "Is there any sign on the horizon of the investor in working-class houses returning to the field of operations?" The reply was, "No, my dear sir, he will never return." Are we to remain without houses merely because people who have money to invest refuse to invest that money directly in working-class houses? Surely that would be putting up the shutters of the nation. I do not kill the small investor. I say to the small investor, "You will find in the local authority a much safer investment for your small savings than you have ever found in owning and letting working-class houses." I am the benefactor of these people. I am the man who is going to take the small investor out of the precarious position that he occupied as the potential victim of the smart lawyer and get him to put his money into a safe investment.
102 The last point in the Amendment is that I am throwing an excessive burden on the State and the local authorities. It is absurd to say that I am throwing an excessive burden on the local authorities, because I am throwing on the local authorities a smaller burden than many of them were prepared to shoulder. Many local authorities had passed resolutions saying that they were prepared to give £5, before they communicated with me. What view did I take? I said, "If you put a heavier burden on your rates than your ratepayers may be reasonably expected to bear, it is going to put a brake on building houses in your locality." Let us get houses; let us frame a policy that will get houses. Do not let us, for the sake of escaping 10s. here or there, do anything that will discourage the erection of houses." My scheme will be judged in the future by its success in providing working-class houses. I considered this matter with these people. They wanted more than £9. They wanted £12. Negotiations were on the eve of breaking off, because my officials would not concede £12 to the local authorities. It was only at the last moment, by a very strong appeal to the local authorities, that they agreed to accept £9.
I argued that they were building at £6 for twenty years and they said, "We are doing nothing of the kind." Scottish local authorities, particularly, pointed out that they were doing nothing under the 1923 Act. With the exception of Birmingham and one or two other places, the local authorities said that they were doing very little under the 1923 Act in the provision of houses for letting. Ultimately, the policy we agreed upon was the sum mentioned in the Bill, £9 for forty years and £3 10s. extra for agricultural areas. I had hoped that hon. Members representing agricultural areas would have looked sympathetically on these proposals when they came before the House. For the first time you have a Government which has recognised the need of giving special assistance to agricultural areas. You have a Government that feels that it is in the national interest to do something to provide houses outside the large urban districts in order to try to stem that influx of population into our large centres which is not in the national interest, particularly from the health point of view. Therefore, we 103 provided an additional £3 10s. for the agricultural areas. There still remain a few areas which are known as the necessitous areas, who pleaded for special assistance, but I said that I should have to leave their claim over until a revision, in the light of our experience, takes place in these provisions, because I said that I was sure I was submitting to Parliament, knowing Parliament as much as I know it, all that it could reasonably be expected to agree to.
The question is put to me in the press and in public, "Why pay £9 for 40 years when you can get for a £6 subsidy for 20 years all the houses that you have labour in the country to build?" On the face of it, that seems as if it were an unbusinesslike thing to do, but there are two very substantial reasons why we should do it. The first is, that the houses to be built under the present arrangements are, first of all, for people who can afford to purchase houses or people who can afford to pay a fairly high rent for the houses. In other words, there are houses being produced for the people who require them least. It is the people who require them least who are getting these houses either by purchase or by paying high rents. I submit that if there were no poorer people in the country than the people who are now getting houses there would be no housing problem, and there certainly would be no State subsidies for house building. It is because we have a great multitude, a necessary, important, valuable multitude, who are poorer than these, who cannot afford either to buy or to rent healthy houses at an economic rent, that we have a housing problem at all. As things stand to-day it is the people who do not need our help for whom houses are provided. In order to provide for the people who do need our help, in order to widen the range, to enlarge the areas from where tenants may be drawn, we require to extend our subsidy, to bring rents down to a level which these people can afford to pay. That is the first substantial reason.
The second is that, unless you bring in this great multitude who require houses at low rents, you cannot give to the building industry that guarantee of continued employment which is necessary, and these certainly are two very substan- 104 tial reasons which justify the giving of a higher subsidy. There is another point. Included in the class for whom you cannot get houses to-day are the very people who build houses. The bricklayer and the bricklayers' labourers cannot afford to purchase houses which the bricklayer and the bricklayers' labourers are building, nor can they afford to pay the high rents which are now being charged for these houses, that is for the very small number of them that are being let. That is well known to hon. Members in all parts of the House. Is it reasonable to expect these people to be enthusiastic about building houses which are closed to them, into which they and their class may never hope to enter Is it reasonable to expect them to have that enthusiasm which you want to engender in them for the building of these houses?
If the building workers are to refrain from exacting their pound of flesh to the uttermost, that economic pound which the shortage of labour enables them to demand, are they not reasonably entitled to ask you to refrain from charging the last penny for the rent of the houses, especially when charging the last penny puts a fence between them and the house? Again, if you are going to lay down that, because you could possibly get a pound more for a house, you are entitled to take it, what case have you against the brick manufacturer who says that he can get a pound more for his bricks when you ask him to take less? What have you to do to solve the housing problem? You have to produce houses, and healthy houses, at rents which the multitude of this country can afford to pay for houses. I was interested in the last Debate in one particular turn which it took. At the outset of the Debate the contention was that there would not be enough labour to meet the demand for labour in the country, and I noticed that when we closed we heard the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) and the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Captain Elliot) contend that the probable demand did not justify us in promising regular employment to the building workers. We had made so much progress in the course of the Debate that the whole view of the situation has been changed.
The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove went out of his way to charge me with having deliberately de- 105 ceived the building industry. I believe that the elegant language which he used was that I had "sold it a pup." I only want to make this comment. If a charge like that had been made by a responsible Member on this side of the House, against an hon. Member on that side, in slang like that, it would be regarded as evidence of our lowly origin. I can assure hon. Members opposite, after three or four months of negotiation with the building industry of this country, that it knows its own business quite well, and that they may safely leave it to look after its own interests. I would merely add that at one of my very earliest meetings with them this question was put to me by the building industry, and I dealt with it in exactly the same way as I dealt with it in this House, and I satisfied the building industry that they would be perfectly safe in giving to this country the labour necessary to produce these houses during the next 15 years. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove should have known better. In the course of my acquaintance with him he has represented two constituencies. He represented a division of Lanark, and though I have not any great personal knowledge of that division, it is in my recollection that there was a whole village in that division in which every inhabited house was condemned by the local authority.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
And the hon. and gallant Gentleman was a Member of a Government that purported to deal with the housing problem, and these houses are there still, inhabited by the same people.
May I point out that houses to re-house the people in an adjacent village were stopped by the administration of the right hon. Gentleman, because they did not agree with his theory as to what houses should be.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
At any rate, it is evident that the plans for the provision of alternative accommodation were not 106 submitted during the hon. and gallant Member's period of office.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
Then why did he not pass them? The hon. and gallant Member now represents a Division of the City of Glasgow. I know something of that Division, and he will agree with me that it contains some of worst slums in the city, perhaps some of the worst slums in the world. Would the hon. and gallant Member suggest that the local authorities of Lanarkshire and Glasgow are reactionary local authorities? Are they not among the most progressive local authorities in the country? They have not been building under the 1923 Act, because they found that they could not do so. What has happened since? Since this House passed the Money Resolution for this Bill the Housing Committee of the Glasgow Corporation have unanimously recommended their Finance Committee to raise a loan of £3,000,000 to enable them to proceed with the erection of 6,000 or 7,000 of the houses formulated in that proposal. That is the new spirit which is coming in, and, in conclusion, I would say that that spirit and this Bill will solve the housing problem.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House cannot assent to the Second Reading of a Bill which meets none of the difficulties, either as regards labour or materials, that at present limit the building of houses, discourages private enterprise and private ownership, tends to increase costs, and throws an excessive burden upon the State and the local authorities without any likelihood that an adequate supply of houses will thereby be made available.The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health has made a speech which, comparatively to other speeches which he has made in this House, was of a conciliatory nature. I am sure that he intended it to be so. I think that perhaps at the last moment he remembered Cardinal Wolsey's last injunction,Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace To silence envious tongues.My tongue is far from envious, because there is no person in the world whom I envy as little at this moment as the right hon. Gentleman. But I do propose to ask the House to consider how any of the remarks which he made to this House 107 represent the facts of the situation. Here let me say that, while I recognise the comparative fairness of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, the thing which we on this side of the House cannot understand in the right hon. Gentleman's speeches is that over and over again he makes statements which have been fully admitted by both sides of the House to be without foundation. Just take his statement that the building industry thinks that this scheme will succeed. There is absolutely no basis of fact for that. Then he says that his is the first Government that has ever secured an agreement between employers and employed in the building industry. There has always been an agreement between employers and employed, but the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman have not secured one. So far from securing an agreement, he tells us that he has not held any communication with the building industry since he made his agreement with the local authorities. At any rate, he has told us in answer to a question that he has had no intimation from them that they do not accept his agreement with the local authorities and no intimation from them that they do accept it, so that he has really heard nothing from them on the subject. I suppose that he has not even seen them, and he has no warrant for stating that he has an agreement with the building industry at all. I shall have to deal with many of his statements in the course of my remarks. Meanwhile, the first words which I address are to hon. Members behind me and to hon. Members below the Gangway. No doubt, especially after the Minister's statement that he expected to secure a great party advantage out of this Amendment, there are many hon. Members who wonder whether in bringing forward this Amendment on the Second Reading we are not bringing heavy artillery to bear against a very small target. It is true, as the hon. Member for Kelvingrove said in the last Debate, that this Bill does little, if anything, more than double the Chamberlain subsidy, and extend it for two additional years. That is the only thing to which this House would by any possibility be bound by this Bill.
I hope that the House noticed the structure of the right hon. Gentleman's 108 speech. During five or ten minutes he raced hurriedly through this Bill. It was obvious that he was too bored with its contents to give the House any serious survey. Then having dismissed his Bill he was off for three-quarters of an hour into the blue Empyrean explaining to this House everything that he was going to do. But it is not in the Bill. The mountain has been in labour. It has not produced a destructive flow of lava. It has not produced the thunders of Sinai. It has produced only a mouse. Surely the least that the House can do, especially after the way in which that mouse was chivied on the Financial Resolution by this side of the House, is to let the little creature alone; it cannot do much harm. I do not agree with that point of view. Our objection to this Bill is less an objection to the intrinsic demerits of the Bill than an objection to the Bill as a milestone on the right hon. Gentleman's progress in an entirely wrong direction. From the very first day when the right hon. Gentleman took office every step in his negotiations has been misconceived. He has shown a complete misconception of the nature of the building industry and the needs of the building industry—a misconception which he has shown in his speech this afternoon, although he is entirely oblivious of it himself. The right hon. Gentleman has made steady progress in the wrong direction by a series of inconsistencies. This Bill is not to be the last milestone of his progress. As he sees failure more and more inevitable before him, he will have to bring forth other Measures equally futile in order to bolster up this misconceived scheme, until eventually the most admiring of his supporters and the most patient of his opponents will be obliged to stop him. I think that we ought to stop him now.
The right hon. Gentleman has made great play with his hope for continuity of policy, his hope that this will be treated as a non-party question. It has been treated and is to be treated as a non-party question by us. We have not interfered with the Minister's negotiations. He will himself admit that for five months we have been extremely patient in awaiting the prolonged process of gestation which has led to this disappointing result. We have shown on the Money Resolution that it is not 109 the cost of the Bill to which we object mainly. I say frankly that if I thought there were any prospect of the expenditure provided by this Bill producing the houses, I would vote for the Bill on those grounds with a light heart. But hon. Members opposite as well as hon. Members on this side must know by this time that experienced opinion throughout the country has very little hope of anything of the kind resulting from this Bill, that this Bill is already thoroughly discredited by really experienced men. Hon. Members cannot have consulted the opinion of any leading local government Vothcials, they cannot have read the course of discussion in the country, without realising that fact. What we have to do to-day is to survey what the Minister's progress has been and to come to a clear and dispassionate conclusion upon the actual situation. That I propose to do for a few minutes.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I hope that the House appreciates the spirit of frivolity with which hon. Members opposite treat this subject. Let me, first of all, clear the ground by saying a few words about the finance of the Bill. So far as the expense of the subsidy is concerned, it does not terrify us. But the finance of the Bill appears to us to be utterly bad, for two main reasons. One is that when you are going to put such a burden upon the Exchequer in future you should certainly anticipate some part at least of that burden now, you should at least write off, say, one half of the subsidy during the next three or four years. That would be extremely unwelcome to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been pressed by the right hon. Gentleman to do that we might never have seen the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made it a condition that the burden should be borne by his successors and not by himself. The only sound finance in this matter would have been to write off at least half the subsidy at the cost to the taxpayers of between seven and ten millions a year. Secondly, we object to the finance because of the loan burden that it will place upon local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman complained bitterly that we said he was going to burden local 110 authorities. Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the First Schedule of the Bill, and see the number of houses, one half the total, which he proposes to produce by 1935? Let him consider what will be the loan necessary to build those houses. It will be £625,000,000. At present the loan debt of the local authorities—I am taking the figures for 1921—is £657,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to double the whole debt of the municipalities of this country within eight or nine years. Is that no burden?
The right hon. Gentleman, or his Parliamentary Secretary, said on a previous occasion, "What is the good of saying what a, large capital burden this will be? The capital will have to be provided, whoever built the houses." By parity of reasoning, because there are 1,000,000 unemployed in this country, and if they are ever to be employed they would have to be employed by capital, why should the Government not float an enormous works loan immediately? That is, I believe, the policy of the Independent Labour party. But the Prime Minister has told us that there is no foundation for any statement that he would even dream of doing any such thing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was the very last thing that he would do. Let the right hon. Gentleman ask the Chancellor of Exchequer whether he thinks that there is no effect on the credit of the municipalities by doubling their debt within 10 years. The thing is madness, and no local authority would dream of doing it. The right hon. Gentleman knows that perfectly well. This is an absolutely impracticable financial proposition.
Let us consider the facts. When the right hon. Gentleman went to the Ministry of Health presumably he engaged in a study of the whole housing problem. When he engaged in that study, he must have had four main groups of facts presented to his mind. In the first place, he must have been impressed by the nature of the housing shortage. He has often talked about the housing shortage in vague terms. Let us consider what the nature of the housing shortage is. Between the years 1911 and 1921, the Census period, the production of houses fell short of the increase in population by 132,000 houses. That is reckoning 4½ persons to a house, which allows for some improvement over exist- 111 ing housing conditions. From 1921; to 1923, taking the Registrar-General's figures, the number of houses built exceeded the increase in family population by no fewer than 93,500 houses. Even in 1923, in the gap between the Addison scheme and the Chamberlain scheme, the number of houses produced was 16,000 in excess of the number needed to keep pace with the increase in family population.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
May I interrupt in no hostile spirit? That surely includes the diminution of population owing to the War?
§ Lord E. PERCY
Of course I am taking the net increase of population in each case. The problem which faces us now is the replacement of bad houses, worn out houses. That is what is not being adequately done.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
Surely the Noble Lord knows that there are lots of people without houses at all?
§ Lord E. PERCY
I have taken the in crease in population. I grant that the figures I have given are an average for the country as a whole. I am not saying that they apply to every area. But the main problem is a replacement problem. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] In the second place, the right hon. Gentleman must have been struck by the enormous change in the agency by which houses are now being built. In 1922, of the 100,000 houses built, practically all were built by the local authorities and big contractors. In 1923, of the 78,000 houses built, only 19,000 were produced by the local authorities and the big contractors, and the remainder were produced by the speculative bidlder. There has been a great revival of speculative building, a revival which preceded the Chamberlain Act and which has continued side by side with the Chamberlain Act. Between September, 1922, and September, 1923, 39,000 unsubsidised houses were produced, and in the last six months, from September, 1923, to March, 1924, 28,000 houses have been produced. That is an increase in the rate of building of about 40 per cent. On 31st March, taking subsidised and unsubsidised houses together, there were 66,000 houses actually under construction. Suppose that in 1924 you are going to build no more 112 houses than those actually under construction on 31st March and those completed in the first three months of the year, you will have a production in 1924 of 85,000 houses at least, of which 85 per cent. will have been built by the speculative builder and only 15 per cent. by local authorities and big contractors. There is the actual position. [HON. MEMBERS: "What rents?"] I cannot tell the rents, but I can tell hon. Members that all of these houses, except at the most some 10,000, are below £26 rateable value in the provinces and £35 in London. [HON. MEMBERS: "For sale."] Of course, but they have been produced by the speculative builder.
The third point which must have impressed itself upon the right hon. Gentleman, although his speech shows he has not fully realised it, is the influence of the speculative builder in the past in recruiting labour. During the time that labour was coming into the building industry—during the period up to 1909—the industry was entirely in the hands of the speculative builder. Under that system, the labour supply was increased. From 1909 onwards, the industry was progressively coming under the control of the big contractor and, admittedly, the big contractor has absolutely failed to increase the labour supply. When Dr. Addison tried to get an agreement with the big contractors and the unions he failed utterly. The unions themselves have complained that the big contractors, in spite of the large profits they were making during the Addison régime, failed absolutely to increase the supply of labour in the industry, even up to the point to which they were allowed to do so by agreement with the unions. Here is the contrast between what happened under the régime of the speculative builder and what happened under the régime of the big contractors who negotiated with the unions as a big Trust. One has produced labour, the other has not.
The fourth point, which must have impressed itself upon the right hon. Gentleman—though, again, by his speech, he would not appear to have realised it—is the nature of the problem of prices; I mention this because the Minister gave a more than usually cryptic answer to a question put the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South 113 Molton (Mr. G. Lambert). The question was:Mr. LAMBERT asked the Minister of Health if he will state what particular operations of private enterprise have caused the increase in price of non-parlour houses from £386 in January to £425 in April, over and above the £5 10s. due to increases in the prices of materials and rates of wages?The right hon. Gentleman's reply was:No, Sir." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th May, 1924; col. 438, Vol. 174.]I can tell the right hon. Gentleman what is the answer. What tends to put up prices and what put up the cost of building under the Addison régime more than any rise in the prices of building materials, was the competition for labour. As soon as you get a position where a local authority is calling for tenders from contractors who are not sure of being able to get the necessary labour, the price immediately tends to go up. That is what has been going on during the last five months, and that is the danger which always had to be guarded against in the administration of the Act of last year. That is the first axiom for any housing administrator to realise.
Then, coming to the question of building materials, the right hon. Gentleman does not realise the problem. He says he is putting the Trade Facilities Act into operation in order to get derelict brickworks started. Does he realise that this country never produced building materials in sufficient quantities to build more than about 125,000 houses per year? It never did at any time, and already you have under construction over 66,000 on one date, namely, the 31st March. You cannot possibly hope for any reduction in the price of building material until you enormously increase the supply, and you will have to do so by very much more drastic means than the Minister is taking steps to employ. But, within this supply, I think one may lay down another point clearly, and it is that the speculative builder, with his very small commitments, tends to raise the price of material by his demands very much less than a local authority with a big scheme. The local authority, having committed itself to a big scheme, is bound to go on—as the right hon. Gentleman well knows and as every local administrator well knows. The speculative builder can knock off at any moment, and the building material maker, knowing that, is not going to 114 take advantage of the speculative builder as he might take advantage of the local authority.
From these four groups of facts, I think there are to be drawn four obvious conclusions as to policy. In the first place, give the speculative builder, the owner-occupier for whom he builds, and the public utility society, such assistance by way of subsidies or loans on easy terms as will lead to the building of houses at the greatest possible rate, and such assistance as is necesary to bring the prices of those houses within the means of the person of small income, whether a wage earner or salary earner. Secondly, encourage private building by these means to that point—but at no time beyond that point—where the speculative builder will feel sufficient confidence in the future to engage new labour and to find that labour for himself. He did it in the past and he can do it now. Thirdly, avoid before everything else any cut-throat competition for labour between the big contractor and the speculative builder, because that is more certain than anything else to put up price. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I have already explained why, and hon. Members should have listened.
That is more likely, as I say, than anything else to put up prices, and is the thing which is actually putting up prices at the present moment. Prices have gone up by £50 when the rise in material only justifies an increase of £5. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not in wages!"] It is not a question of wages; it is a question of the contractor protecting himself against the danger of not being able to find labour and of having to lie off for a month, as many of them have had to do within the last year, or of having to bring labour in from outside, sometimes paying special rates of 1d. or 2d. an hour above the union rates. That has been constantly done, and hon. Members opposite need not shake their heads. To proceed, as regards building materials, the right hon. Gentleman has indicated a measure in order to get the small brick-fields of the country working. By all means do so, but it will be necessary to go outside that proposal and to take more drastic steps to encourage a real advance in sound methods of concrete construction. That is the only way in which you can, in any considerable degree, get over 115 the shortage of material and the high price of material at the present moment.
Fourthly, lastly, and most important, the obvious conclusion as to policy would be this: Your great need, so far as public enterprise is concerned, and the need which private enterprise is not meeting, is the replacement of old houses. Concentrate your action upon that, not in the old discredited sense of clearing slum areas and building good tenements instead of bad cottages on those areas, but in the modern sense of rehousing, partly on the site no doubt, but mainly outside, in accordance with a definite, well-considered town-planning scheme. Make that the substance and main purpose of your programe of State action while, at the same time, paying attention to new building in those areas where private enterprise is not building houses at the present moment in sufficient numbers. That is your main programme. That is obviously the thing on which the State ought to concentrate. The Act of 1923 was a long step on those lines. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood) asked us what had we done to keep down prices and stimulate the supply of labour. I have answered him. We met those objects, not by creating some movement which had not before existed. We did it by throwing the weight of public policy in with the living forces in the national life, instead of doing what the right hon. Gentleman has done in throwing in his weight with precisely those forces which have failed in the past.
I have mentioned four groups of facts and four clear lines of policy. Let us consider what are the Minister's four cardinal sins against the light? In the first place, he has thrown in his weight with the very agencies which have failed in the immediate past. He has talked vaguely about private enterprise and how he is supporting private enterprise—as usual, daubing the untempered mortar of phrases on to his jerry-built scheme. The right hon. Gentleman asked plaintively what was he to do; he had only the two alternatives, to threaten the building industry and threaten private enterprise, or to meet it fairly. He has never met it. He has never been within 100 miles of private enterprise. He does not know what private enterprise is. Let there be no mistake about this point. This Report, 116 which is called a Report of the building industry, is one in which no speculative builder had any part at all, and does not represent the speculative builder. It represents practically nothing but the big contractor. I do not mean that certain big firms of speculative builders have not been consulted, but they remain utterly outside the scheme because the right hon. Gentleman has not included the speculative builder under this scheme at all, but has carefully provided that no speculative builder shall build under this scheme. The speculative builder builds, and necessarily builds, in order to sell, whether to the owner-occupier or the investor. Under this Bill, a local authority cannot get a subsidy on any house unless the house is built under contract with a Fair Wages Clause. Therefore, all these houses have to be built under contract. Where does the speculative builder come in? Who ever heard of a speculative builder building under contract?
§ Lord E. PERCY
I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman has done as well as he could, having once decided to throw his weight in with the big contractors whom he calls "private enterprise." I do not deny they have met him as fairly as they could. They have very little to offer, and what they have to offer he has had to throw away. In spite of the right hon. Gentleman's reiterated statements as to what he has done and the agreement he has obtained, I am not going to go into what has been exposed over and over again in detail in this House. I confine myself to the mere statement that he has got no agreement with the building industry. The building industry has never accepted the terms with the local authorities; they have never accepted this Bill; they are under no obligation to this House or the Minister even if the Bill is passed, and the Minister has had no communication with them since he made this arrangement with the local authorities.
To come to the second of the Minister's offences, if local authorities do build, as Glasgow is going to build, under this Measure, what is going to happen? We ail agree there is no supply of surplus labour available. We all agree that not one single man is going to be added to the industry by the scheme for the next three years. If, during those three years 117 the local authorities are to give any encouragement to the dilution of the industry, they must do so by stimulating competition for the available labour between the big contractor and the speculative builder, and prices are bound to go up. Nothing can possibly prevent that result, and having got a slump in speculative building as a result of this competition, you are then going to have Clause 4 of this Bill. I ask hon. Members to consider what that will mean. Here is a Bill to put confidence into the building industry, and it contains a Clause which says that, if the inevitable happens during the next three years—inevitable, because nothing can prevent it—the Minister is going to smash his own scheme. The result must be unemployment. It is an open advertisement to the building trade that once more Sir Alfred Mond is going to follow Dr. Addison, and this time the right hon. Gentleman will have smashed the speculative builder for the time being, and will not be able to rely on him to come back and employ some of the men who will be thrown out of employment. The idea that this can give any inducement whatever to any sensible trade unionists to increase the supply of building labour is absolutely absurd.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I am speaking in the name of common sense, and, in spite of the hon. Member opposite, I believe trade unions are controlled by common sense. The right hon. Gentleman's third sin is his discrimination against the owner-occupier and the public utility society. The owner-occupier is not to be allowed to get an increased subsidy under this Bill. There is something which puts a man in a different category if he has enough money to buy his own house. The right hon. Gentleman is still under the delusion that it is very much more expensive to buy your house than to rent it, a suggestion which is quite obviously untrue. The public utility societies are graciously to be allowed to participate in this scheme if they accept conditions which make it impossible for them to operate as public utility societies. There is to be no cooperation, there is to be no help for the cooperative movement in building; that is to be absolutely smashed, and, having smashed all this, what is to happen? 118 What is to be the fate of the future tenant? He is to get, the right hon. Gentleman says, a better house for the same rent if the house can be built for £475 a year all in. Even to-day it, can not be built for £475 all in. The right hon. Gentleman talks about who are the people who most need the houses. Who are they? They are the slum dwellers at the present moment, He has told us, in this House, that the inclusive rents which have to be paid for A and B houses respectively, in order to make them remunerative, with rates, on the costs of last January, are 18s. and £1. There has been a rise in cost since then which at least means another 1s, a week, that is to say, 19s. and 21s., and the right hon. Gentleman's subsidy is not more than 5e. What slum dweller is going to pay from 14s. to 16s. a week inclusive rent for his house?
§ Lord E. PERCY
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that he is not helping the worst off people, although he comes down to this House with the rhetoric to which he is accustomed, rhetoric which will be transcribed throughout the country for party purposes. Let me warn the House in this connection about the tenants, that there is nothing in this Bill to oblige a local authority to let the houses to working-class tenants. They may do what they did under the Addison scheme, and they may let them to anyone, and the agricultural district council may let the houses for which they are getting the increased subsidy to anybody. This is not helping the agricultural labourer, and with the way in which prices are going up at present they are bound to let a house to someone else in order to cover their costs, because, even with this increased subsidy, with the way in which prices are now going up, it is impossible for those houses to be let at agricultural rents. Let me warn the House of another thing. The right hon. Gentleman has said that rents under this Bill are to be determined in a different way from the way in which rents are determined under the very similar provisions of the 1919 Act. I will venture to say that there is nothing in the difference between the 1919 Act and this Bill which has any such significance at all, and, moreover, there is nothing in the 119 1919 Act which binds the right hon. Gentleman at this moment not to do what he says he wants to do under the Bill.
What, as a matter of fact, is he doing? The House may like to know what they have actually to expect under this Bill from the Minister as an administrator. What is he doing in my own constituency of Hastings? The local authority puts up certain proposals for houses, and he replies that the local authority must charge, in respect of the additional amenities—merely a bathroom, not a larger house—extra rents varying from 1s. 6d. to 3s. 4d. in the case of parlour houses and 1s. 6d. to 2s. 8d. in the case of non-parlour houses. Is that the way in which he is going to administer this Bill? What do the "different classes" of house mean in this Clause of the Bill? That is the kind of treatment that the tenant may expect to receive under this Bill—the tenant for whom the right hon. Gentleman says he has so much love.
The fourth of the Minister's sins is this, that he is deliberately discriminating against slum clearances. He will admit it himself. He does not like slum clearances. Whereas for new houses the local authorities are going to get a subsidy of 75 per cent., on a slum clearance they are only getting the 1923 Act subsidy of 50 per cent. Here let me observe that the Minister is very careful to say on every occasion that no houses are being built in Scotland under the 1923 Act, but he always forgets these slum clearance provisions under that Act, under which a great deal of building is going on in Scotland. But, supposing the right hon. Gentleman does actually apply £9 subsidy to the replacement houses built in respect of a slum clearance, that is even worse, for it is going to put a premium on the local authority making niggling clearance schemes, not including any houses which are not actually medically condemned, that is to say, excluding any "blue" areas. "Blue" areas are areas which cannot be medically condemned. The areas which are medically condemned can be bought up at cleared site value. You cannot have a comprehensive slum clearance town planning scheme unless you include those "blue" areas, but you are putting a premium on the local authorities excluding them, and 120 moreover, housing as many people as possible on the site. That is the inevitable effect of the Bill on the whole problem of slum clearance, and here, will the House forgive me if I say one word about this slum clearance question?
It is quite true that, with the continuing shortage of houses, it is difficult for any local authority to undertake big slum clearance schemes. We all know it is difficult. It is, perhaps, impossible, but what the local authorities can do is to undertake a number of small Part II schemes, the reconstruction of a few houses here and there, of this or that in-sanitary court or alley. Let me remind the House what the situation of these people is at the present moment. Great areas where the people see nothing done in the way of remedying their housing conditions will see nothing done under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. Men and women are absolutely hopeless because they see no effort being made to remedy the conditions immediately around them. You have to put some heart into these people, if you are going to get them to use any self-help at all, and a number of these small Part II schemes in various parts of big towns will do more to put heart into these people than anything else in the world. That is the kind of thing on which local authorities ought to concentrate, more especially at this moment.
I have completed my brief survey. What are we to do with this Bill, this exiguous apex of an inverted pyramid on which the right hon. Gentleman, dexterous juggler as he is, is trying to balance his towering ambition Are we going to let this pass through the House with kindly tolerance, and try to do what we can in Committee to provide it with some reasonable and sound basis? I do not think much can be done with this Bill in Committee. As its title is drawn, as the Financial Resolution was drawn, there is practically no Amendment of any good that can be moved on this Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman knew that perfectly well when he said, "If you dislike this Bill, come along and let us co-operate in Committee and have party unity." He knows very well that he was talking with his tongue in his cheek, and that nothing of the kind can possibly be done, and I do not need to remind the House that we are under a, very grave responsibility. This House is united in sentiment and in principle on the housing problem, 121 because the country is united. There can be no contentment in the nation, there can be no respite to the responsibilities of statesmen, until our fellow-citizens have some reasonable prospect of possessing houses which they will not be ashamed to call "home," and for that very reason this House could commit no worse crime than to cheat so many passionate and pathetic hopes.
We cannot tolerate make-belief in this matter, and the more splendid the make-belief, the more pretentious the make-belief, the higher will be the hopes fixed upon it, the more bitter the disillusionment, the more inexcusable the deception which we shall have practised. The right hon. Gentleman may save his reputation from the wreck of his scheme. He has already told us frequently that, if his scheme fails, he has provided himself with a way of escape, that he will then go to the country and say that private enterprise has failed, and that this is an argument to show that only Socialism, or, as he so aptly described it this afternoon, the servile State, can possibly provide the houses. He will then have an argument by which to force conclusions of that kind upon right hon. Gentlemen like the Prime Minister and cautious financiers like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who at the present moment do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but with whom he is unequally yoked in an uneasy and ambiguous coalition. That is the right hon. Gentleman's refuge. If he cannot have houses, at least he will have an election cry, but there is no hope for the people who are waiting, either in this scheme or in the election cry which the right hon. Gentleman will manufacture out of it. No ray of light comes to those mean homes in fœtid alleys out of any of the cloudy schemes which the right hon. Gentleman has brought forward.
I have set before the House—I know at intolerable length, and I apologise—four groups of facts, four conclusions and four cardinal sins. Let me say here, that because we are determined to oppose this on Second Reading, in order to stop the Minister on a path which can only lead to failure, for that very reason, if this Bill passes Second Reading, we are not going to delay it in Committee. If reason cannot demonstrate the absurdity of this Measure on Second Reading, then 122 the sooner it is demonstrated by experience the better, but we cannot reconcile ourselves to it. I, personally, should be ashamed of myself if I did not register a vote in the Lobby against the Bill, which I regard as an absolute and a heartless sham. I say we are not mere critics. I have already outlined the lines of sound policy. Those are the lines we should certainly adopt. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain), speaking on his Bill last year, said it was a prelude to a comprehensive Measure to deal with slum clearances and other kindred subjects, and if we had remained in office, we should now be completing a detailed Measure of that sort.
I have no doubt myself as to the lines on which such a Measure should proceed. I have already indicated them in my speech, or have tried to do so, but I believe that the success of any great effort of public enterprise directed to the replacement of the existing inadequate-houses, will depend on having a central administration, mainly independent of politics, with wide discretion in the administration of funds placed at its disposal by the Government, and able, without interference or competition, with the labour supply at the disposal of private enterprise, to enlist a special staff of labourers as public servants in the carrying out of a public programme, and for such a scheme I would not have a 15 years' programme, but a 30 years' programme or longer. On those lines you can do the work without danger of raising prices, as the right hon. Gentleman is doing, without danger of an inevitable breakdown, and without having to threaten the industry, as the right hon. Gentleman is doing. I ask the House to choose to-night between such a scheme, calculated and well-reasoned, as we should bring into force if we were in office, and will bring into force when we come into office very soon—I ask the House to choose between a great programme of social reform of that kind, and the empty palace of vanities which the Government are erecting.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The legitimate desire of a large number of Members of this House to put expert knowledge at the disposal of our consultation, combined with a certain disability of my own, will, I hope, render my intervention of a far less lengthy character than that of the speeches to which we have hitherto 123 listened. Therefore, perhaps the Noble Lord will forgive me if I fail to follow him in the finer flowers of rhetoric with which he has at once pleased himself and his audience—the mouse, which became a milestone, "the thunder of Sinai," "soaring into the Empyrean," "daubing with untempered mortar," "the four cardinal sins against the light," the "exiguous apex of an inverted pyramid"—and they will, therefore, have to find other criticism than that which I will provide. In connection with his speech I will, therefore, confine myself merely to one point in which he was good enough to give way to an interruption, and also to the very remarkable close of a very interesting oration. After a very long and very meticulous examination of the Housing Bill, the Noble Lord suddenly produced—as in the famous phrase, "a rabbit out of a hat"—the Tory programme for dealing with the Housing problem, and my only regret is that it did not appear in the masterly and astonishing document which was issued last week by the Unionist Association, in order to encourage the working men of the great cities once more to return to their ancient Conservative, historic faith. His programme is solely and simply—and I do not say there is not a lot to be said for it—that the muncipalities or the State should enlist, as civil servants, members who are efficient in the building industry, and should themselves, through this new rank of civil servants, carry out the building of the houses required by this country.
Why are we left till the last moment of his admirable speech; why are we left till after six months of what is sometimes denounced as a Socialist Government before this brilliant effort of municipal Socialism is unfolded to an astonished world? I should hope that the reasoned form of his Amendment, which he has now submitted, may take the form of an even greater reason than it may present at this moment, and that, instead of merely stating the rather obvious criticisms that can be made on the scheme of my right hon. Friend, he would definitely withdraw in favour of a determination for the municipalisation and State Socialism of the housing industry, and then submit that to the House as the new and great electorally attractive Measure of the new Tory programme. Apart from that, which, I hope, we shall hear later in the 124 Debate worked out in fuller detail, there are two other points I would venture to submit to the House in connection with the speech of the Noble Lord. The first was his statement that the figures—apparently those of 1922 and 1923—showed there was no such demand for the creation of new houses as has been propounded, and as is indeed the foundation of the whole scheme which my right hon. Friend is submitting to the House. Surely this is—I will not say a deliberately unfair way but not a fair way of dealing with statistics before the House of Commons. The Noble Lord has evidently taken the years in which both the deaths of those who were killed in the War and also the enormous decline in the birth rate due to the years in which the War was waged made an enormous decrease for the moment in the population and in the marriage rate. But, if he would look at the years immediately succeeding, he would see that the marriage rate went up by enormous dimensions immediately the War was over, and if he would turn his great mind—believe me, I am not speaking in any satirical sense—to a consideration of the whole matter, he would agree with me, as I agree with my right hon. Friend—although I shall have some criticisms to make of his scheme before I sit down—that my right hon. Friend is right in his figures, if you take into account the necessity for the provision for newly-married couples, the increase of population and replacement, which experts, in whom I have the utmost confidence, have told us mean nearly a million houses at the present time unfit for human habitation, which would be vacant if there were other houses to which to go, he would net attempt to underestimate the task my right hon. Friend has before him, when he says that we want, in some way or another, at least 200,000 houses a year to be built during the next few years, most of which, I believe, could be let at economic rents, and without any substantial subsidy at all.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I did not bring for ward those figures as showing that the demand was any less than the right hon. Gentleman has made out. I think it is greater. I was pointing out the nature of the demand, that the demand is for the replacement of bad and inadequate houses, and not for new houses to meet the increased population.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I entirely accept the Noble Lord's statement, but he is really only making the same point he made before in different terms. That brings me to the last of the points with which I am concerned in connection with his speech, and that is what he calls the slum clearances. He thinks the demand is largely a demand in connection with those inhabiting slums or houses unfit for human habitation. He is quite wrong. If he will consult my hon. Friend the late Lord Mayor of Manchester, and Chairman of the Housing Committee, he will find that immediately Manchester puts up houses at 15s. a week rent, the people fight to get possession of them. They are not dwellers in slums; 96 per cent. Of them are decent artisans. I agree the demand is practically unlimited, and why that demand should not be satisfied for a class which is providing, to a very large extent, the rates and taxes which are necessary for the subsidy, I have never been in the least able to understand. I do speak with a certain amount of knowledge as to slum clearances. The worst way in which you can deal with the question in any conceivable fashion is to clear the slums. I lived for some years in one of the foulest block dwellings in South London—dwellings quite unfit for human habitation, but in which hundreds of people were trying to get in, and paying key money and large sums to have the first opportunity to get in, because they had nowhere else to live, and during the whole of that time the company—which was not a philanthropic company—in charge of those buildings never did one single scrap of repair or amelioration to make those slums better, nor would they have done so whatever Part 1 or Part 2 Housing Act you tried to put into force.
I have helped to pass one Housing Act in 1908, and have been concerned with others, and my experience is that, directly you try to make houses for these slum clearances, the only people who get any advantage are the landlords and owners of the slums you clear. The one way is to offer alternative accommodation to the people in those slums. In the case I have in mind it was not by clearing sums, or using Part 1 or Part 2 of the Housing Act, but by using Part 3 of the Housing Act. It was by the London County Council building a little further out from our district—I do not know whether hon. Gentle- 126 men will call it Socialism, but it was under the Tory Act of 1890—and some thousands of people were taken away by it. If you go now you can see a delectable neighbourhood existing there. The result of it all was that, with the help of good cheap transport, the people were drawn from the slums into the new area, and occupied the houses in this new area. The first sensation was that a number of the tenements were to let. The second sensation was to find some of the tenements being put into repair and cleaned. The third sensation was that the rent of those tenements went down owing to the fact that there was no longer the demand for that particular class of house because the people had gone outside into decent habitations. That, and that alone, is the only way in which any sane civilisation will try to deal with clearances of slum property. It may be in this case there is only one thing to do; and I trust that in the future the Government and the right hon. Gentleman will use all the influence they can to appeal to the landlord to put the property into repair. But that influence, as we all know, is somewhat useless so long as you have no alternative accommodation. There are hundreds and thousands of houses to-day which are unfit for human habitation, but the officers of the Ministry of Health refuse to deal with the landlords simply because they say it is better for the people to live in these habitations than to be turned out into the streets from these houses without any other accommodation. Therefore, the whole problem comes back to the point: what are you going to do, or build, in order to have houses for the working people of this country? I propose to take exception, not to the motives, but to the methods of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, and at least to put forward certain criticism which perhaps other people might find in these proposals of the right hon. Gentleman if they proceeded to consider the subject. Everyone has stated—I do not know why—in the speeches made here—and I have listened to those speeches—that because you have people living in bad accommodation you are, therefore, to build for people who can only afford bad accommodation, and you are not to build for any other. I believe that to be a complete fallacy. I do not believe it is the duty of this House, or of the country, or the desire of the country—or is compatible 127 with the greatest needs or interests of the people—to erect 2,500,000 small box dwellings as a solution of the problem of housing the people, for our posterity to gaze at, and for our posterity to pay for. So long as you build houses which people will buy or people will rent, you are lessening the congestion which exists at the present time. By lessening that congestion you are making accommodation available for people who are, and ought to be, more pleased, and would be more pleased, to live in what are called sometimes second-class houses than to live in subsidised houses. Every one of us is living, as far as I know, in a second-class house. I myself am living in a habitation which was once inhabited by the rich and wealthy. They have gone past, and the houses thereabouts are mainly inhabitated by myself and my colleagues of the Labour party. Build more houses of absurd dimensions which will never let: what then? If you build a villa dwelling the villa dweller will let the house for an artisan to dwell in, and if you build for the artisan he will let his house for the unskilled labourer, and instead of keeping up landlords' rents by such a method, you are sending them down. This seems to me to be an entirely desirable condition of affairs. If you only get enough building done you are avoiding what I believe is a nightmare to many people when they consider the possibilities of the whole of this scheme, which is that the nation will pay up to 1981 subsidies for houses for the people, which means the breaking of every kind of economic law, and means subsidies towards rent and towards wages, from which the working people themselves will receive no benefit at all. I rather wonder why the right hon. Gentleman does not boldly, as he says he is not against private enterprise, adopt once for all, in his housing, the challenge which has been so generously issued to him in the name of the Conservative party opposite, and boldly build on a sort of Civil Service plan, such as you employ when you build a Post Office or any other Civil Service building. If you cannot do that, why do you not boldly agree to provide cheap money for anyone who will build and let houses at economic rents? Let the people pay, as they are willing to pay in Birmingham, Manchester, and other great towns, these 128 economic rents, and by thus providing cheap money—not to big builders, because the Noble Lord (Lord E. Percy) was correct, as I knew in 1'109; it was the smaller speculative builder that put up the great mass of these small houses, and if you provide cheap money for the speculative builders, who will undertake to erect houses in 12 or 15 weeks, you would allow gradually the supply to meet the demand, and people will leave the slums, and then you would see one of the best things which you could see, and that is slum property for which the landlord cannot find a tenant!
I change for a moment to utter a word of protest against my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. I know how difficult it is to deal with him. His manner is so plausible, his retorts so courteous, his Parliamentary ability so great, that he palsies the criticism of anyone who puts himself up against him. Certainly I should not be inclined to be bitter against anyone who is proposing methods to deal with the housing question—which I have studied for more than twenty years of Parliamentary life—even when he says he will answer a question which I put to him, and then subsequently declines to do so, though I may remind him of the fact. But I would remind him of this fact, a serious fact. I think the House ought to know the circumstances relating to the Resolution proposed before this Bill was introduced. We did not even see the Bill before we had passed the first Resolution upon which practically all our Amendments were ruled out of order on the main substance of what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I agree; in many parts of the House there was a suggestion to that effect. No Parliament ought to be put in the position of either refusing a housing scheme altogether because you have objections to certain features in it which you cannot have remedied, or there is an inability to modify those features, while at the same time the Minister himself is inviting every Member of every party to contribute towards the discussion and asking that the Bill shall be made a gift of Parliament and not only the gift of a minority. I do not know, 129 and I am still at a loss to understand—though I have followed every printed document—what are the various agreements that the right hon. Gentleman has arrived at between various classes and sections. There is the Building Committee Report, which I have studied, and concerning which I have cross-examined or listened to cross-examination in the Committee, and I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to cling to these recommendations or not. In some of the most vital he has told us that he is not inclined to cling to the recommendations. In others I am at a loss to know what are his proposals. There are manipulations of municipal authorities, some of which have been told us and some not. He has secret agreements and arrangements with every kind and class of the community—except the House of Commons. We have not even the chance of putting our case before the House as a Member of a minority party: so closely drawn has been the Financial Resolution that we cannot even submit our case in Committee.
Take just one example of this limiting. [Interruption.] I am trying to speak as quickly as I can and with as much sincerity as I can. I would not have wished to put it before the Minister of Health if I had not thought it was a real point, but I have had some experience of this matter before. When the Housing Bill of 1908 was brought in, the Financial Resolution was drawn in the widest possible fashion so that practically in Committee any Amendment could be proposed dealing with the nature of the suggested Housing and Town Planning provisions. Let me give one example about which a number of people feel strongly, and on which we had an Amendment in the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman is proposing in the Bill to put up what he himself has called small brick boxes of less than 950 cubic feet, and not only to do so for the morrow, but for the next 15 years, when perhaps the very standard of housing and conditions under which the materials are used for building will have completely passed away. We ask that he should limit his Resolution or modify it. We should not submit any artificial Debate, and would discuss it quite apart from party considerations. We should put forward considerations such as those now advanced 130 by the great institution of the Housing and Town Planning Committee whereby there might be some relaxation—if you like, relaxation under the conditions of the Minister of Health himself. He has shut himself out from even giving relaxation himself, even if a case can be made for relaxation under the Resolution. He has committed us to these small brick boxes for the whole of the future of the housing of our work-people, and guaranteed for 40 years, when the brick boxes will be a burden on the municipalities who will be paying rates and taxes for them while they may not be able to find occupants prepared to undertake the rent which they will demand for them.
I do not want to contrast—it would be impertinent of me to do so—the way the Minister of Health in his speech has approached the subject and the way the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) introduced the Bill of a somewhat similar character for housing a year ago, in which certain limits were made to these boxes. The right hon. Gentleman then never confined these limits within the Resolution, and, in consequence, he yielded, as any Minister ought to yield, to the general sense and temper of the House of Commons as to dimensions, and the possibilities of the houses building under subsidy was materially enlarged by the House of Commons. Why does the right hon. Gentleman refuse to do what his predecessor a year ago did? Is there some secret arrangement of which we have no knowledge with the builders or with the municipalities? If not, may we appeal to the Government at the last minute to introduce another Resolution in order, not that we may or may not necessarily make these dimensions greater in every case, but that we may give permission to the local authorities to make them greater if they desire to do so, lout only under the sanction of the Secretary of State. Surely that is not a great demand to ask the right hon. Gentleman, a Member of what he himself terms a minority Government?
The second point is on the question of building houses to sell. I cannot understand this fierce, bitter hatred, as it seems to me, of the people who live in their own house which they have built. [An HON. MEMBER: "It makes them Conservatives!"] It will require something 131 to make Conservatives of them. I am not speaking of making Conservative, or Liberal, or Labour supporters, but I am speaking of friends of mine, and of those from whom I have received a number of letters from all parts of the country. A great majority of those who wish to own their houses are poor men, and they receive help from co-operative and other societies, and they are quite as good tenants as county council or municipal tenants. I have nothing to say against the municipal authorities upon this question. I could say a good deal, only I am afraid I should be wearying the House, in regard to the methods adopted by some of the smaller municipal authorities, which are very often largely stocked with builders, and are frequently controlled by the owners of slum areas within their own municipalities.
There is no sacredness and no real sense of security to be gained by the fact that long after every hon. Member in this House has vanished from this sphere enormous sums will be paid to keep municipal tenants in a certain number of subsidised houses. When I spoke on the Resolution in the House, I thought it would be possible to so amend that Resolution that we should give at least an equal chance to the man who wishes to own his house to obtain the labour as we are doing in regard to the man who wishes to become a municipal tenant. The right hon. Gentleman and his Building Committee are going to suck away all the labour possible into the new municipal housing scheme.
I remember listening to the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. Kirkwood) when he said deliberately, and with some force, that anybody has a right to own his own house, and he said that was a sound Socialist doctrine. I hope, with the advantage of private enterprise which now keeps the Minister of Health in order, that he may so redraft his Resolution in order to give equal facilities to the man who wants to own his own house for obtaining the necessary labour, and if necessary the subsidy as well, so that we may create a larger number of secure and sound house owners who will live in their own dwellings and who may in the future, as the hon. Gentleman opposite believes, become the supporters of the Conservative party, although I am not afraid to risk that 132 In conclusion, I wish to say that I have heard nothing from the Noble Lord to make me vote against this Bill. He has said nothing but what was already in my mind, and he has raised no doubts that have not been in our minds before during these discussions. If I may say without any kind of implication of Members of other parties, there are no benches in this House filled so much with those who have expert knowledge on this subject, and have tried to solve it, as those on the benches on which I have the honour to sit. Therefore, I would ask for a reconsideration of the possibilities of this Resolution, and I ask my right hon. Friend if he cannot see his way to make this great scheme not only the gift of his party, but the one great social reform gift of this Parliament. If he will do that we will do everything we can to co-operate with him. We are entirely careless how far he on his part may desire to take personal credit, or how far his party want to make the country believe that they have done it, or how far the amazing economic proposition which he unfolded in his speech on the Financial Resolution may be circulated to the astonishment of posterity in every village and town in the United Kingdom.
Although I shall vote for the Second Reading, I intend to ask that the Committee stage shall be kept on the Floor of the House of Commons. If I had no criticisms to make in regard to the Resolution, I should have tried to induce the House of Commons to assent to a proposal, keeping the Committee stage in the House. This is essentially a Money Bill. You, Mr. Speaker, ruled that not a word of the Bill could be introduced until the Financial Resolution was presented. That is quite different from the ordinary Bill which goes upstairs with a Money Resolution in it. I nee er remember any Bill being thus introduced when I was previously in the House of Commons, and being subsequently sea: to a Committee upstairs. If this Bill is kept on the Floor of the House, I ask that my right hon. Friend may find it in his way to persuade the Cabinet not to be bound by any secret agreements made with societies, but to allow the House of Commons to decide upon the questions which I have put to him.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
It is not a subterfuge. A few days only would be necessary, and, as far as we are concerned on these benches, we are quite prepared to give up a few days of our holidays, if necessary, and I think that only a few days would be necessary, for the consideration of this Bill on the Floor of the House. To accomplish this, we are quite willing that the Eleven o'Clock Rule should be suspended. The last time we fought for a great Measure we fought from April to December with the Eleven o'Clock Rule suspended. I do not think it would be asking too much to ask hon. Members to give up a little time to fight for a great and united scheme of this kind. We will reduce our Amendments to the greatest possible extent, and also our speeches. We will assist the Government in any Measures needed for the acceleration of business if they will only meet us on these vital questions. In view of the fact that the continuous 15 years has already gone, and that the enormous burdens which were going to be laid on municipalities are not going to be laid upon them, and that we are proceeding in a tentative direction towards a housing scheme which certainly needs careful consideration in view of *the fact that the last housing scheme has failed; in view of the enormous need which no one familiar with the actual conditions can fail to recognise, I can assure the Minister of Health that there is a possibility of even a minority being proud of producing a real permanent Measure of social reform.
§ Major BIRCHALL
I wish to state, in the first place, that I propose to support the Second Reading of this Bill. I do not find myself able to vote for the Amendment which has been proposed, and I think the House would be well advised to give this Measure a, Second Reading. The: two great points I desire to make against this Bill are, in the first place, that I regard the subsidy as being unnecessarily large. I am speaking from almost a life-long experience in connection with the building of houses, and I believe that a subsidy of £10 would be quite sufficient to encourage building and would also enable houses to be built and let at a rent which could be paid. If that be so, then it is purely a waste of public money to give the much larger subsidy which is now proposed. On the subject of cost, I have never been able to 134 understand why a House which could be built before the War for £200 should now cost nearly £500. I know those figures are correct, and, while we admit that the price of materials has increased by 70 per cent. or 80 per cent., there is apparently no justification for the cost of building having gone up by 150 per cent. during the last 10 years. I find myself opposed to the proposal of the Government on the grounds just mentioned in the excellent speech which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Masterman). He dealt very ably with the point I wish to raise, that the ownership of houses should not only be encouraged but that it should be established as an alternative to the renting of houses.
I desire to give a little example of what I have been doing myself on this question during the last few months. I borrowed a certain sum of money to build six houses within the dimensions of the Chamberlain Act in order to obtain the subsidy of £76 for each house. Having done that, I desire to sell them to those who can only pay for them by weekly payments. I have had no difficulty whatever in attracting weekly wage-earners who agree to pay 17s. 6d. per week, which enables them to buy the house in the course of 14 years. Those houses have been sold at cost price do not say everybody can do that, but I do believe that a great many men in this country would be willing, for the sake of endeavouring to do something and bear some small share in solving this problem, to build a few houses of that character, and sell them by weekly payments at cost price, and to that extent they would help to solve this problem.
I only wish I could introduce hon. Members opposite to those men who have bought these houses and are buying them week by week. Then I am sure some of them would change their minds, and they would feel that there was more happiness in the case of an owner than there ever can be in the case of a tenant. Every little improvement they make to their small garden or premises is their own, and there is no increased rent to pay because they improve their premises. If they plant fruit trees, or whatever it may be, they own the improvement, and they are far happier as owners and prospective owners than they would be merely as tenants. I throw that suggestion out, 135 because I believe it is capable of being extended. It is an improvement over the ordinary building society method, because the whole of the capital is advanced to them, and they get possession of the houses when they make the first weekly payment. It is an improvement on the ordinary building society methods because no mortgage is necessary.
My experience is that the ordinary weekly wage-earner objects to a mortgage, because he does not understand it, and he is afraid of it, whereas if he can obtain possession of a house and pay a fixed rent for 14 years I believe there will be a great demand for such opportunities. It may be thought surprising that, having these two strong objections to the Bill, I propose to support it to-night. I do so because I see in this new building trades Report the beginning of a new spirit is industry. Here we have masters and men and subsidiary suppliers of material who have agreed in each case to limit the free play of their rights and interests in order that they may produce houses for the people of this country. I believe in the honesty of that Report, and I think it marks an advance in our industrial relations, which I hope may be the forerunner of others. What has rendered the housing condition so difficult in the past has been a suspicion on the part of the men that, if they gave better or harder labour, or worked longer hours, or admitted more apprentices, someone else was going to reap the advantage. In this Report they have agreed to forego, as I have said, some of their privileges, in order that they may produce more houses. If only that spirit can be encouraged, if only we can believe in the honesty of both the masters and the men who have drawn up that Report, if only we can trust to them to do their best to produce these houses, and can convince them that others are sharing in any sacrifice they may make, I believe we shall get these houses for the benefit of the people who require them.
I admit at once, however, that we have to believe in the honesty of those who produced that Report. I have the honour of knowing some of the Committee personally, and I do believe in their honesty. I believe that large numbers, both of masters and of men—leading men in their own organisations—have worked 136 hard to produce this Report, and although, undoubtedly, the arrangements will need modification, that can be done in Committee. On the whole, I believe the Report, and more especially the spirit of the Report, is such that it should commend itself to the people of this country generally. We have had, perhaps not going quite so far, but a similar instance of a new spirit in industry in the proposed coal settlement. I am not, of course, going into that now, but I de think that in this case, as in that of the coal settlement, in which the interests of men and masters were considered fairly and adequately on the same basis, we have another instance of an improved spirit in industry, and so far as this Bill endeavours to put that spirit upon the Statute Book, I intend to give it my support to-night.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I do not know that any Measure that has ever been presented to this House has been given more consideration than this question of housing which we are now discussing. For the greater part of a Session, Bill after Bill and Motion after Motion have been before the House. I want to congratulate, if I may, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) on having been responsible for contributing one of the most illuminating speeches in this Debate. His eulogy of the Minister of Health was rather mixed, and am inclined to think that, while his intention was to praise him, the result was to damn him with faint praise. The right hon Gentleman spoke of the desirability of building garden suburbs in order to release houses in the cities. That is very nice in theory, but in practice it does not work out. Let me give a particular case from my own experience. The men whom I represent, and who constitute a very substantial number of the working classes, cannot live in a garden suburb. They have to look work at night, noon, midnight and early morning, and if they lived in a suburb they would have to pay tram fares four or five times a day, when they went to look for a job. What is the use of talking about suburbs to men like that. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Oh, yes, but the building of suburbs for clerks, middle-class people, and artisans, will release the houses they have in the city." What happens then? The house-jobber comes along and buys 137 these houses, and the result is that the people from beneath the pavement up to the roof are packed together in tenements like herrings in a barrel, and extortionate rents are charged for the tenements. That does not relieve the congestion of the town; the congestion becomes greater while there are not sufficient houses to accommodate the people.
There is another point that has escaped the House in this Debate. It is a very curious thing to me that here in the richest nation in the world the argument of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who represent the Opposition has always been that of land and labour. Labour, mental and physical, as applied to land, is the source of all wealth, but the satire of the present position is that the physical labourer, for his labour on the land, cannot get a sufficient wage to pay an economic rent for the house in which he lives. The whole thing, to my mind, proves absolutely and conclusively that there is "something rotten in the state of Denmark."
The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) has moved an Amendment in which he declares that the Bill of my right hon. Friend does not meet the situation and discourages private enterprise and private ownership. I wonder when right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will drop that parrot cry of "private enterprise." Private enterprise is responsible for the present stuation in connection with the housing problem. I know what I am talking about, for I was reared in a slum, and when I reached manhood I lived in a slum—or rather, I did not live, I existed—I existed beneath the pavement in this city of Liverpool, in the Division represented by my hon. Friend the Member for West Toxteth (Mr. Gibbins), in one room with a sewer in the corner, and six in a bed; and the rent charged for that hovel was 7s. 6d. per week. Liverpool is one of the most progressive cities in the country as regards housing, and yet to-day we have there these miserable holes beneath the pavement, where people are crowding together one on the top of another. In our public art gallery we have a picture called "The Triumph of the Innocents," by Holman Hunt, for which £800 or £1,000 was paid; and yet right behind the very frame of that 138 picture the slaughter of the innocents is going on every day, in the fetid, foul slums owned by Members of the House of Lords, who sit in another place; and the irony of it is that in these narrow alleys and courts, where there are big cracks in the walls, where there is a common tap in the middle and a sink running up past the windows, the Medical Officer of Health posts up notices advising the parents of the children that they should have air and sunshine. Those children do not know what the love of air and sunshine is, because private enterprise has shut out the possibility of their ever getting air and sunshine.
I regret, however—and here I join the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme in suggesting a hale friendly criticism of the Minister of Health—I regret that he passed so lightly over the question of the land. He pointed out that, after all, the price of the land was only a minor matter—I think he said it was £200 per acre. I assume he was speaking about rural land, and I submit that that is a very decent price for an acre of rural land. Even at a yearly value of £4 per acre, and that is putting it high, at 20 years' purchase it would only be £80. The right hon. Gentleman seems to forget that it is not the price you pay at the beginning for rural land that is the trouble; it is the value that is put upon the adjoining land when houses are built on it. The very houses that the right hon. Gentleman is building to-day—and here again I join with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme—will, in 30 or 40 years, be slums themselves, and why?
Let me give one or two cases in point. I could point out to the right hon. Gentleman where in Liverpool alone the slums have run up the valuation of the land from almost nothing to £3,000 per acre. I could point out to the right hon. Gentleman cases in which the demolition of the slums so enhanced the value of the adjoining land that it was impossible to put the people back on the same land at an economic rent, and it had to be sold in order to pay for new houses. Again, I could show the right hon. Gentleman a place which was originally occupied by sand dunes which were quite valueless, but where, when the docks and the dockers and seamen and firemen came 139 along, the price of the land was raised from nothing to £2,500 per acre. On the one hand you had there low wages, and on the other hand you had high rents, the workmen being crushed between the upper and the nether millstone of law wages on the one hand and high rents on the other. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will pay a little more attention to this question of land. Talk about private enterprise building houses! I invite the Noble Lord to come down and see some of the hovels that private enterprise has built, and private enterprise today is going to be very little better at the end of 30 or 40 years than it is now. The very demolition of Kirkdale Gaol in Liverpool enhanced the value of a quarry alongside it, and the bricks that came from Kirkdale Gaol were used to build houses for working men. I remember also a very curious thing that happened. In the northern corner of Kirkdale Gaol, where they used to hang people—and as a boy I have seen it done—there was built a tin chapel by the very man who built the jerry buildings. The bell that rang the poor men out to be hanged outside, rang in the congregation, who praised God from Whom all blessings flow. Where private enterprise has failed, it is the duty of the Government to step in and do what private enterprise has failed to do. If I were Minister of Health, and if I had any influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I would endeavour to point out how to get over the question of subsidies. If rural land with an annual value of £4 would bring in £200, why should that £200 escape the necessary contribution to the rates? The other day I called the attention of the Minister of Health to what had happened. We have a cathedral in Liverpool. Slums have been demolished to build that cathedral. Slums were demolished to put up new buildings. The town council had passed the plan to put a certain number of people back beside the cathedral. What happened? Private enterprise and respectability combined got that resolution rescinded, so that the wind between them and the poor unfortunate slum-dweller would not be foul.Suffer little children to come unto me.Here they are chasing little children. In those eloquent words of Russell Lowell, 140 when Christ came back to this earth and complained, the reply was:O, Lord and Master, not ours the guilt; We built, but as our fathers built; Behold! Thine images how they stand! Sovereign and sole, through all the land." Then Christ sought out an artisan, A low-browed, stunted haggard man, And a motherless girl, whose fingers thin Pushed from her, feebly, want and sin. These, set He, in the midst of them. And, as they turned back their garments hem For fear of defilement, "Lo!" said He "These are the images you have made of Me.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
After the eloquent address to which we have listened, I think it would be desirable to get back to the Second Reading of the Bill. I claim to be heard on this, subject, inasmuch as when the late Government brought forward a Bill on somewhat similar lines I ventured to endeavour to oppose it on Third Reading and moved its rejection, but failed to find a Seconder to that Amendment. Therefore, although the Conservative party is, to a certain extent, tarred with the same brush as the Minister of Health, nobody can accuse me of taking part in a policy of which this Bill is merely the rediuctio ad absurdum. In my own district at home, we have solved the problem. We have got all the new houses we want, and, if it had not been for the action of the Minister of Health, we should have got a lot more which would have housed people from the slums. Therefore, I think I am entitled to speak on the Second Reading and give my support to the Amendment before the House. I have, together with some friends in the Conservative party, put down another reasoned Amendment for the rejection of this Bill. I was very pleased to see the putting down of that Amendment seemed to inculcate resolution in the Conservative party, and it was followed by another Amendment.
We cannot consider this Bill by itself. There is another Bill to be presented subsequently which is the coping stone of the Bill before the House. The Bill before us at present is a Bill to produce houses by increasing the cost of houses. It is a subsidy Bill. In essence, what the Minister of Health says is this: "The building trade will not provide houses at the prices available. Therefore, we will give a subsidy to raise the price of houses, 141 and thereby induce people to build." The Bill subsequently is to prevent the cost from rising. Therefore, if we pass this Bill for raising the cost of houses by subsidy, and subsequently pass a Bill to prevent the cost of houses from rising, then the House of Commons will once more have stultified itself. Indeed, there is very little excuse for the Minister of Health presenting a thing of this sort. We have had more than one experience of this same policy in the last few years.
When it became obvious to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that the Addison scheme was a complete failure, he turned in desperation to Sir Tudor Walters, and Sir Tudor Walters suggested putting in force a housing subsidy. At that time I was building houses for the purpose of getting a check on the costs of building from day to day and week to week. As soon as the 1919 Act passed a Second Reading I started building and continued building working-class houses until the cost became so gigantic that I could not afford it, and had to cut out my losses which went well into five figures. I do not grudge a penny of that. That scheme gave a subsidy roughly of £200 a house. From my own experience of the Addison scheme, the cost of building houses was going up from time to time as much as 5 per cent. per week. When that subsidy was introduced, the cost bounded up by £200 within four weeks. With that experience before him, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain), when the housing problem was solving itself rapidly, came in and put up the cost of houses by between £50 and £100.
Look at the position last year before the Mitcham Election, which induced the Conservative Government to say that they had got a housing policy. In January last year a demand was in for a reduction of 20 per cent. on building trade wages. There is not the slightest doubt that if the Conservative party had nothing to fear a reduction of 10 per cent. in wages and an increase in the building trade hours in the summer was inevitable, and the unions would have accepted it. But no sooner did the Government come into the field than, instead of a reduction of 20 per cent., we discussed a reduction of 2½ per cent. In January and February of last year, before the Conservative 142 Government initiated this iniquitous policy of subsidy, every ring in the building trade was smashed completely, and I found I could buy material, even from ring members, at below ring prices. This subsidy came along and up went the cost of housing. I see the Under-Secretary is present, and I would invite his attention to these figures. Last year 77,000 houses were completed, of which 3,108 were subsidy houses under the 1923 Act. That is to say, the effect of the subsidy only became apparent towards the end of last year. From October to December last year we saw the average price of houses rise from £50 to £52 each; in a word, absorbing the subsidy as rapidly as it could. Now the Minister of Health puts forward an arrangement to make the cost of houses £200 to £240 greater.
The whole thing is too preposterous. Members of the building trade, whether they be workers or employers or building material merchants, are all human beings. If they are offered for their work, or material, or brain work, a very much larger sum than private individuals are willing to pay for it, then naturally they are willing to accept a free gift of that sort at the expense of the population. This subsidy is to be given at the expense of the workers in every trade except the building trade. Every other trade is going to be taxed and rated week by week so that the building trade may not suffer. In my own district, the skilled worker in the engineering trade—the skilled fitter and turner—if he be lucky to get a job, gets shillings a week less than the unskilled labourer in the building trade. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who have some experience of the building trade will agree with me in this, that of all persons to whom the community might be considered under an obligation the unskilled building trade labourer comes last of all.
Again, the right hon. Gentleman says, "we will build houses not for sale but for rental, and not for the middle-classes but for the working-classes." I would like him to explain, on a subsequent occasion, what earthly difference it makes whether houses are built to rent or to sell, or whether they are built for kings and dukes or the working-classes. Supposing we built another Buckingham Palace, we are just as much relieving the housing situation as if we built a hovel or two rooms in some slum property. Nobody 143 builds houses to keep them empty, and it does not matter in the least whether they are sold for a family to live in or let for a family to live in. If a family is going to live in it, it makes more room for a family somewhere else. He himself knows perfectly well his proposals are preposterous, and I am informed that his intention is by some underhand method to get this Bill rejected so that he can go to the uneducated—
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. Is it fair, or is it the general run of conduct, for an hon. Member of this House to accuse another hon. Member of desiring a thing when he has not adduced the slightest proof for the suggestion he has made? Is it fair or in keeping with the Rules, for a Member to make that suggestion without submitting proper proof?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I did not follow the observation being made. What I would say is that we do not allow any reflection on the personal honour of a Member or on his motives.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
What I said was this: I had been informed that the Minister for Health did not want this Bill to pass through the House of Commons.
§ Mr. MAXTON
What you said was: "I have information that the right hon. Gentleman is bringing forward this scheme with underhand motives," whereas you had no such information.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
Mr. Speaker having ruled that it was a reflection, I have withdrawn it. The right hon. Gentleman's argument was this, that if you got the land for these houses free of all charges you would only be able to reduce the rent of the houses by 1½d. per week, and if you got the whole of the material 144 free of all charges it would only reduce the rent of the houses by 1s. 10½ per week, while if you got the labour free of all charges you would only reduce the rent by 1s. 3d. per week, or a total of 3s. 3d. per week to be saved if we get land, material and labour free. He then pointed out that the capital charges on each house amounted to 6s. 6d. per week, spread over a period of 60 years. There are two alternatives we must face. Did the right hon. Gentleman really believe that if we got the land, material and labour free of charge we could only reduce the rent of the houses by 3s. 3d. per week, whereas the capital charge on the house amounted to 6s. 6d.? If he really believes that, is he a man whom we could entrust with £1,200,000,000 of the taxpayers' money? If he does not believe that—and, mark you, this misstatement is being circulated all over the country by the officials of the Labour party—if he does not believe it then I leave the House of Commons to say what can be thought of his action in making cinch a statement. This is what he said:The burden on the house due to land is only 1½d. per week, and if you get that land free you reduce the rent by 1½. per week.As a matter of fact, if you got your land free the reduction would be 4½d. per week and not 1½d.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The Minister of Health in his speech quoted certain figures. Can the hon. Member show he was wrong?
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
Tie said the average cost of the land per house was £20. The amount had to be distributed over 60 years and that brought it down to 10. per week. Subsequently he said the capital charge was 6s. 6d., as 3 per cent. on £500 gave a total cost for each house of £20. But if the land is free first of all, there is a saving not only of 1½d. per week, but also of the capital charge of £20, or 3d. per week; a total saving in that respect of 4½d. per week. Then he said the materials and profits represented £280, which was equivalent to a weekly rent of 1s. 10½d. That is wrong. If you save that £280 there is not going to be any capital charge in respect of it, and therefore your saving per week is three times 1s. 10½d., or 5s. 7½d. Then take labour in the same way, and, finally, it works out that if you get the land for nothing, the labour for nothing and the material for nothing there is no capital 145 charge. In other words, if the houses cost nothing you can let them for nothing per week. That is the sort of twaddle which is circulated throughout the country in the hope that there are big enough fools among the electors to believe it. It is an argument of almost incredible stupidity, and it is put forward by a man who is going to ask you to entrust him with the administration of the small, insignificant sum of £1,200,000,000. Any Minister of Health or any of his colleagues who connived at the circulation of such a story as this surely are not fitted to be trusted with the money of the taxpayers to anything like that extent.
The effect of the right hon. Gentleman's actions so far has been absolutely disastrous. This summer we had every hope during the building season of getting something like 130,000 houses completed and tenanted or sold before the end of the year. Judging from what was going on in my own district, that was a possibility, for our council were passing plans for the sort of houses wanted, speculative builders were putting them up and selling the houses, and we were attracting from the neighbouring slums of Manchester a large number of people who could afford to live in better houses than they were there living in and who, by taking these new houses, were vacating cheaper houses for occupation by their less prosperous fellows. But the Minister of Health will have none of this. He says that the slum men who cannot afford to pay even the economic rent of the houses he is going to provide are to be kept still in their slums and to contribute from their exiguous wages a certain sum per week to pay for the better houses to be occupied by their more prosperous fellow-workers! That has been the sole effect of the whole housing policy of the Coalition and of the Conservative Government as well as of the present Ministry.
§ Mr. SUNLIGHT
As considerable time has been already devoted to the consideration of the Government proposals on the Money Resolution, I shall not take up much time now, but I feel bound to refer to what was said during that Debate. The Minister for Health on that occasion endeavoured to demonstrate that the Housing Act, 1923, was not sufficient and, indeed, was not even intended to solve the housing problem in so far as the 146 provision of the necessary houses for the working classes was concerned. The right hon. Gentleman also endeavoured to demonstrate that the so-called housing policy has for its object, not the building of houses to sell but the building of houses to let. He differentiated his policy from the Birmingham policy by insisting that his solution for the housing problem was the provision of houses to let and the investment of public money in cottage property so that it might be let. I would like to ask how it is that the Minister for Health fixed his vision on these two things: First that houses must be built for letting purposes, and, secondly, that private investors could not be expected to put their money into cottage property and, therefore, the State must become a speculative investor and build for letting purposes. I do not claim to be such an ardent Socialist as the right hon. Gentleman or some of his colleagues from Scotland, and particularly the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) whom I am glad to see in his place. During the Debate on the Second Reading of the Rent Restrictions Bill that hon. Member made most vigorous speeches and stated that he would not be satisfied to be a subservient tenant paying rent to a superior person as landlord, and he would not rest content till every one of the wage-earners had become the owner of his own home. I should have expected the hon. Member to have seen the danger of setting up millions more of tenants instead of endeavouring to set up millions of new house owners. In my opinion, the present Minister of Health has gone far to lower the sense of pride of the wage earners by setting up millions of pauperised tenants.
§ Mr. SUNLIGHT
I am sorry the Minister of Health is not in his place. I consider that his vision in handling this question has been meagre, shortsighted and dull. If this scheme were to prove practicable, which I am certain it will not, I believe his Socialist colleagues would soon blame him for his astounding and unenlightened policy. In searching for reasons for the Minister's proposal, I wondered if he had in his mind the idea that it might be a very useful thing to set up a body of 2,500,000 State tenants 147 to whom at some future stage he might appeal for votes on the ground that he would reduce their rent or, better still, make them a free gift of the houses they occupied. I can imagine his assuring the House in answer to that suggestion that, there are millions of other tenants of privately-owned property who would probably oppose any such proposal, but I should say, on the contrary, that he might also ask them for their vote by making them a somewhat similar offer, and that he might thus assure himself of an overwhelming majority. I shall say nothing to damage the enthusiasm to get on with a constructive, continuous and consistent policy for a number of years. I disagree with the Minister of Health in his criticism of the Chamberlain Act because the houses built under it have been built for sale or were bought. On the contrary I think it was an effort on a higher plane, and my own view is that the logical conclusion of that Act should be an extension of it, that whereas the subsidy was limited to £75 from the Exchequer, or £100 all told for a house costing £600 or £700, for a class of people who are little above the wage-earner, logically we ought to give a larger cash subsidy to the wage-earner who can only afford to live in a cottage of £400 value, and my proposal would be that instead of subsidies saddling our next generation and their children for 40 years, we ought to budget every year for a certain cash payment of £100 subsidy—the Chamberlain subsidy of £75 and £25 from the local authority—on houses costing £600, and a cash subsidy of £150 to every wage-earner who can somehow afford to live in a £400 property.
I should like to refer again to the Minister's speech on the Money Resolution. He rather claimed praise from the Conservative benches by saying, "Although my proposals emanate from a Socialist source, yet, in view of the fact that most local authorities are composed of men of Conservative rank, they were enthusiastic for this proposal." In view of his admission that most local authorities, especially in the big cities, are not of his own political faith, how can he depend on these local authorities carrying out a continuous programme for years? The next question is on whom is he relying for the building of his houses. We know that at present there are no 148 private house builders in existence engaged on the building of these very modest working-class cottages, and the bulk of the houses which have been built and are intended to be built by the Government proposals are intended to be built by public works contractors. I ask the Minister how can he plan that definite programme of so many hundreds of thousands of houses every year regularly when if in a year or two trade revives, and the building industry picks up, and any number of warehouses and shops and public buildings of all sorts are given out to tender to public works contractors, they would naturally desert housebuilding and carry on their propel legitimate trade of public works contracting. A number of proposals have been made to-day.
I suggest a possible solution to the house-building problem would be that we set up 5,000 or 6,000 bricklayers and carpenters in business as house builders. I have been engaged in building for 20 years, and I have the greatest respect for bricklayers. I shall be no party to this foolish criticism of bricklayers laying so many bricks a day when I know that any skilled, grown-up bricklayer and carpenter is competent enough build working men's cottages, and I suggest that under Government or municipal authority we set up 5,000 little firms of house builders from the rank and file of the bricklayers and carpenters. If they built, as I am certain they could, 20 cottages between them per annum each firm, that would be 100,000 modest cottages of the class we are debating at present. The next question would be how to finance these little builders. Here we ought to apply the Credit Facilities Act. If we apply that Act to the extent of £5,000,000 of credit, that is £1,000 to 5,000 firms of house builders, I am certain there can be found 5,000 bricklayers and carpenters who had savings of their own of £200. The credit Committee will advance 80 per cent., up to £1,000, to enable them to carry on their business of house building, and it would only mean turning over their capital several times a year. I am certain that by doing that we shall be independent of fluctuations in the cost of building for the simple reason that you will be independent of public works contractors and the state of trade in the building industry, and you will have 5,000 builders building in their own 149 particular locality, and not in chunks like big local authorities are doing by building 5,000 in one area instead of spreading over where the people really need them.
There is another point. Imagine the psychology of working men helped to set up in business on their own account, who might be doing their repairs and other jobbing work, who would be helped by the State for years to come. A most important point is, that if they take in apprentices they have the greatest inducement to train them rapidly and effectively, whereas the present proposal of the Government in putting apprentices in the trade does not offer the slightest inducement to the craftsman to take any interest in the apprentice. In fact, his interests are contrary, whereas in my proposal the apprentices who would be drawn into the trade would be directly in touch with the master builder himself and he would have everything to gain in training those young men as rapidly as possible. In that way we should certainly get an augmentation of labour. In regard to building material I speak with an intimate knowledge and experience, because I was one of the busiest architects in England in 1919 and 1920. During the Addison period the system prevailed of one unit, the central authority, virtually becoming the purchaser of building material for all over England, using the local authorities as his agents. What was the result? The price went up sky high. The next stage was on the principle of enlarging the circle to 600 local authorities instead of one, and the price of material immediately dropped to half, for the simple reason that you had 600 customers for building material instead of one. My suggestion is that, by increasing the number of little house builders, in the course of a very short time you could reduce the price to half what it is now, and in that way you will find the rings and combines scouring the country to find the little house builders who are watching their own little purchase account from day to day, and the combines will melt like ice in the sun.
I should like to refer to the Minister's speech wherein he said he had ratified the bargain with the builders' merchants, or manufacturers, or brickmakers, that the price shall be the price ruling last January. On my return to my office 150 in Manchester on Saturday morning, received a printed notice from the Manchester Brick Manufacturers' Association:Please note that on and from 23rd June, 1924, there will be a general advance in the price of bricks of 5s. owing to the increase of wages recently granted by the Industrial Court, together with the increased cost of fuel and other material.That is the sort of song I have been accustomed to for many years. In 1919, when Government control was taken off, the Brickmakers' Association agreed to supply bricks at 52s. 6d. a thousand, yet my own clients for whom I was acting were made to pay £4 and it went up to £5 a thousand. The price was 20s. a thousand in 1914. What is really in the Minister's mind is this, that he has been able to get the brickmakers to repeat the same proposal and say, "If you are going to employ us for 15 years we are prepared to supply bricks at a fixed price. In the meantime they will be sending out notices every week to private people of 5s. advances, until it goes up to £5, and what the Minister will get will be the rubbish which is rejected. If I am paying £4 for bricks on a decent building, I am going to get the best the brickmaker has, and you will have to take the rubbish. That was my experience in 1919. I am not antagonistic to any housing proposal that will be reasonably likely to succeed, and I hope that I am not expressing any bitterness against the Government, but I cannot from my experience of 20 years' intensive building as an architect be a party to a proposal which I am convinced will never succeed, and which will saddle the next generation with so great a burden as the cost of it. If I have the honour to be a representative in this House 20 or 30 years hence, I should not be able to face the next generation and their criticism of our ineptitude in 1924.
I beg the consideration of the House to the mass of papers in front of me and to these ponderous tomes. I do not intend to make any use of them whatever.
The explanation is that I got them for nothing, and as a Scotsman I accepted them. I shall not trespass upon the time of the House long, because the Front Bench has trespassed upon the time of the House at intermin- 151 able length, but I wish to bring forward one or two points in connection with a part of the country of which too little is heard nowadays—I refer to Scotland. This Bill is in essence an attempt to put into practice the agreement cone to in the Building Trades Committee's Report. The essence of the scheme is a long term programme that will increase subsequently. These two things are separate and distinct from each other. The Minister says, quite rightly, that the foundation of his scheme is an attempt at augmentation of labour. He has found, as every practical man finds in dealing with this problem, that you must somehow augment the labour in the building trade. The Minister says that he has succeeded in doing this, and that he has done it by two treaties and a charter: a treaty with the building trade, a treaty with the local authorities and the charter for the tenants.
Since he challenged me on the point, I consider that this so-called treaty with the building trade has been considerably modified since he made it. The treaty that he made with the building trade is, as far as I can understand the matter, embodied in this Report. He has no authority from the building trade to change the provisions which they have laid down as essential. Many most important provisions have entirely disappeared, when one comes to examine the legislative proposals by which it is intended to give effect to the treaty with the building trade. If we take no point other than the question of the control of labour, we find that the Building Trades Committee very properly said that they must have wide powers to deal not merely with the trade but with the distribution of labour. Otherwise, they could not guarantee the execution of the programme of houses which they have laid down as the desirable object in regard to which they were willing to come to an agreement with the Minister.
They said that this body was to be a national house building committee. It was to be a statutory body, and was to have its expenses paid out of funds to be provided by Parliament. It was to have very extensive powers in regard to the distribution of labour. It was to stimulate the training and the recruitment of apprentices. It was the body to 152 which the local authorities had to apply, and from which they in turn had to receive the ration of labour according to the needs which they had put forward. There is not a word of that in this Bill, and the Minister does not inform us that he has any permission from the building trade to modify these essential conditions of the report. Consequently, I say that the first of the treaties, the treaty with the building trade, has "gone west." If the right hon. Gentleman objects to that statement as a piece of slang, and says that it is an expression of unholy origin, all I can say is that I cannot claim to be of the high origin of Lord Haldane, Lord Chelmsford and other Noble Lords whom the Labour party have taken into their bosom.
West of Scotland is the Atlantic, and I have no doubt that is where it has gone. The next treaty is the treaty with the local authorities. I wish to consider that, not from the point of view of the Tory party, but from the angle of an authority which I am sure hon. Members opposite would consider as an authority of the highest respectability and verity. This authority says:Mr. Wheatley's statement with regard to local authorities that they are to have power to stop building at any time for any reason leaves a great deal to be explained and in particular it is not clear how the guaranteed programme suggested by the House Building Committee is to be maintained. We shall look for that point when the Bill is brought in.This is a circular of the Labour Research Bureau. I take it that it is impossible to be more orthodox in one's quotations than to quote from the official organ of the Research Bureau of the Labour party
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Mr. A. Greenwood)
That is not an official body and it has no relation whatever to the Labour party.
it is hard to say that it has no relation whatever to the Labour party. It may not be directly maintained by Labour party funds but, surely, the hon. Gentleman will not deny that it has very close relation to the Labour party. I will put it no higher 153 than that. This is the case from an angle which is not that of the Conservative party. I think the treaty with the local authorities is seriously infringed by the further statement of the Minister that if there was delay and he was the judge he would have the power to enter and build in the territory of the local authority and charge the expense to the rates. He gave two contradictory statements on that point. He told the local authorities that the suspension of building would not incur any charge on the rates, and he has told the House that he would proceed under Section 4 of the Housing and Town Planning Act. In that Act we find thatAny expenses incurred by the Board in the exercise of such powers shall in the first instance be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament and to be properly payable by a local authority, but the amount certified by the Board to have been so expended, shall on demand be paid to the Board by the local authorities and shall be recoverable as a debt due to the Crown.Therefore, it seems to me that that section of the treaty has been broken.
The object of these two treaties was to obtain an augmentation of labour. At present, certainly in Scotland, the position is hung up by shortage of labour and not by a shortage of subsidy. The proof of that is that there are thousands of houses to complete yet under the Addison scheme on which the State is paying 100 per cent. It is paying the whole of the deficit. It is very difficult to make head or tail of the figures that have been given. I discussed this matter with the Parliamentary Secretary on the Money Resolution, when I pointed out that there were thousands of houses to be completed under the Addison scheme, and ho challenged me on that point. I further said that there were several hundreds of houses in regard to which I thought an extension would be required, even over the period which Scotland had already got. After an answer by the Secretary of the Scottish Board of Health on this point, I asked him whether he would deny that there were several hundreds, possibly a thousand, of these houses still to be completed. He replied that there were 136. I said:Are there any for which it will be necessary to get an extension?The answer was:Up to the number of 136.154 Last week I put a question to the Secretary for Scotland and he replied:It is estimated that a further extension of time will be required for about 2,000 houses, but it is not possible at present to fix a definite date.
Yes, I was discussing the Addison houses. That figure proves that we are up against a serious shortage of labour in Scotland. What does this scheme suggest? As I understand it, it proposes to raise the number of apprentices to one apprentice to every three journeymen. That, I understand, is the essence of the scheme. I asked the Minister of Health how many apprentices are at present being employed on these schemes and he replied that the information is not available; that it is not possible to state the number of apprentices employed in connection with housing schemes under these Acts. I put a question to the Secretary for Scotland. Whether it is that he is better informed or less cautious I cannot say, but he gave me certain information, and I would direct the attention of the House to the information, because it seems to me that the figures given to me by the Secretary for Scotland are absolutely destructive of the proposals under this scheme, at any rate as far as they apply to Scotland. In reply to the question which I put to him, he explained that the number of bricklayers employed on the State-assisted housing schemes is 568 and the apprentices 296, so that there is one apprentice to every two journeymen at the present time in Scotland.
What can one make of such a scheme? Here it is proposed, with an infinity of trouble, with a masterly degree of organisation and a tremendous effort which is to involve an expense of £1,200,000,000 of public money, to bring up the number of apprentices to a figure 30 per cent. lower than it is at the present time in Scotland. It reminds one of the pictures one sees from the pen of Mr. Heath Robinson, where strings are attached to hinges, which attach themselves to other hinges and which pass over pulleys and which come to an end in the accomplishment of some elaborately futile nothing. As far as this scheme in Scotland is concerned, we cannot get past the figures given by the Secretary for Scotland last week, 155 showing that he has got practically one apprentice to every two journeymen bricklayers now.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
To what did those figures apply? Did they apply to a town or to the whole of Scotland?
To the whole of Scotland. Take the tigures for plasterers. There is one apprentice to every 2.5 plasterers.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Does the hon. Member seriously suggest that there are only 560 bricklayers in all Scotland?
I am giving the figures that were given to me by the Secretary for Scotland. The figures deal with the employés on State-assisted housing schemes—the Addison schemes, the slum clearance schemes and the 1923 schemes. There are less than 2,000 houses being constructed by private enterprise. I am not suggesting that there are not more bricklayers in Scotland. The Report itself says that it does not propose to withdraw bricklayers from other schemes.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
What happens is that the one, firm is engaged, not only on State schemes, but on private work, and the proportion of apprentices employed on the State scheme apparently is larger than one apprentice to three journeymen, but in proportion to the total number employed by the firm it is smaller because private contract work, on account of its nature, does not permit of apprenticeship to the same extent.
That does not alter the proportion given us by the Scottish Board of Health, but in those figures we are dealing with those employed on State-assisted housing schemes. If we had this statutory control suggested by the building trade Report, then I admit that the position would be different, for the statutory committee would have dictatorial powers, and they will not give a contract to a contractor unless he undertakes to employ a certain percentage of apprentices on the scheme. Those figures show that at present more than the required percentage is being employed on those schemes by the industry which it is proposed to dilute up to the specified strength. The continuity of 156 policy which the right hon. Gentleman desires will not, in my opinion, be secured by schemes such as those which do not take into account the fundamental nature of the difficulties with which we are at present confronted.
I do not think that the continual intervention of the House of Commons in the housing industry is a thing which will promote continuity of policy, and I am afraid that in some form or other it will be necessary for the House to delegate part of its power over this matter, in a manner analogous to the power of some of the great Commissions which have been set up within the last few years, such as the Forestry Commission, the Road Board and the Hospitals Commission. I am not referring to a geographical devolution as much as to a functional devolution. Functional devolution is long overdue in this House, while geographical devolution would merely present us with a new set of problems in miniature, similar to those with which you have to deal on a large scale here at present. I do not believe that the Board of Health in Scotland will be able to carry out the programme which we have left to them, let alone to add to it. There is not a brick or a slate in this scheme for Scotland. There is note brick or a slate in this scheme for Shettleston or Kelvin-grove. I do not believe that we are going to get any such augmentation of building as the right, hon. Gentleman foreshadows under this Bill, and in consequence I shall have no hesitation in dividing against it. I am certain that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would infinitely prefer that, we who do not believe in this scheme should come into the open against it and oppose it, rather than by a side wind attempt to kill it after it has started on the process of being carried through the House.
§ Mr. JAMES STEWART (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland)
There was one point which the hon. and gallant Gentleman made just before he sat down which I must answer. He said that there is not a brick or a slate for Scotland in this scheme. Am I to understand that he means that in the proposals contained in this Bill there is no provision made for building houses in Scotland at all? If I understand the Bill aright, it contains provision for a total of 2,500,000 houses to be built in the course of 157 15 years. Of that number something like 500,000 are to be allotted to Scotland, a much greater number than in proportion to its population because of the particular circumstances that affect housing in Scotland in a greater degree than in England.
That may be the hon. Gentleman's belief, but there is not a word of that in the legislative proposals that are being brought forward.
§ Mr. STEWART
If there is not a word of those proposals applicable to Scotland, then I take it that there is not a word applicable to Wales or England. The Bill applies to Great Britain. It does not merely affect England or Wales. If the hon. Gentleman will read, the provisions of the Bill, he will see that every provision is made for the case of Scotland, and that the Secretary of Scotland is to exercise the function of the Minister of Health in England. There may be many mistakes which we might make, but I do not think that we should be guilty of the mistake of having out provision for that part of the country where the housing problem is most acute and requires most attention. There is undoubtedly a shortage of labour. What is the use of us labouring that particular point? Everyone of us has admitted that there is a very considerable shortage of labour. In 1901 we had in Scotland 121,000 men engaged in the industry, and from one cause or another that has fallen to 65,000, which is a drop of nearly 50 per cent. in the number formerly employed in the trade, and at the same time our requirements are higher to-day than ever they were. Therefore one has got to remember that we have to find the labour and we are going to find it I am certain. In the building trade both employers and operators are going to honour the pledges which they have given up to the maximum of their power that they will relax their rule and will allow apprentices to come in in sufficient numbers to meet the requirements.
The hon. Gentleman has said that there is one apprentice employed already to every two journeymen. That is a fact as far as State-built housing schemes are concerned. In these there is more than the allotted number, but one reason for that is that the apprentices are more profitable after some time in that work, but what has to be taken into account is 158 not the number on any particular job, Whether housing or otherwise, but the whole trade has to be taken into account. The total number engaged on State-assisted housing schemes of the local authorities is 5,361 of all forms of labour. Of that number 2,840 are journeymen and 977 are apprentices, which is about one apprentice to every three journeymen, leaving the labourers altogether out of account. I believe that the hon. Member is thoroughly alive to the necessities of the situation, but one has got to remember that the men employed in the industry realise the parlous condition of things, and they are not going to stand by any bard-and-fast rule. They have given us their bond which is contained in this Report., and I am certain that they will observe that bond which has been entered into between the Minister of Health and them, and that there will be no difficulty as far as the matter is in their power in providing the labour to give us the 2,500,000 houses at the end of the 15 years.
The hon. Member who spoke about Scotland earlier in the evening made a remark to the effect that the Secretary for Scotland, or the Scottish Board of Health which is represented by myself, had held up housing particularly in an area in which he has had some interest I think that he referred to a mining district in Lanarkshire where the whole of the houses were condemned as being unfit for human habitation. The number of houses which were required to be built there was 100. The hon. Member while he was in office did allow the local authority to build houses of smaller superficial dimensions than the dimensions specified in the Act. The figure in the Chamberlain Act is 550 feet, and in special circumstances 500 feet, but permission has been given by the hon. Member—and I am not cavilling with it in the circumstances—in various districts to allow houses of 475 feet with bathroom accommodation, with the indication that that was the standard housing that he himself was prepared to carry out. Only 25 per cent, of the houses were to be three-roomed houses. The number of houses in Scotland is 1,057,000. The number of houses with three rooms is only 52 per cent. of that number, 47 per cent. of the population of Scotland is living in houses of less than three rooms, in houses with a single apartment or with 159 a room and a kitchen, and I was not prepared to allow these houses to continue to be built with less than the standard of accommodation which was laid down by the Minister of Health and the Scottish Board of Health—
Does the hon. Gentleman deny that within the last few weeks he has sanctioned schemes for houses of 475 feet—two-roomed houses?
§ Mr. STEWART
Yes, I was coming to that. I was about to point out that I had to relax the rules. When I entered on the position which I now occupy, I decided that a mistaken policy was being pursued, and I informed the local authorities that instead of being allowed to build 75 per cent. of two-roomed houses they would have to build 75 per cent. of three-roomed houses and only 25 per cent, of two-roomed houses. I did that with the best intentions, but later on I was informed that, because my predecessor had sanctioned the policy which I found in operation, I was acting against the law in doing what I had done. I cannot say, but I was informed by my legal advisers that I was wrong in taking the action which I was taking, and I had to give way, but on the clear understanding that for the future only 25 per cent. of the houses allowed would be of what the hon. Member and myself know as the room and kitchen house, and that no less than 75 per cent. must have three rooms or more. In that way I think that I have amended in some degree what, I think, was the mistaken policy of my predecessor.
There is a woeful tale to tell with regard to the housing provision in Scotland. Since 1919 there have been built altogether in Scotland 25,000 houses. In 1919 there were 131,000 houses required. Since then there have been built under various schemes a total of just over 25,000 houses. There is a shortage of 106,000 houses to-day, the number that was stated by the local authorities to be required immediately in 1919. Add to that the shortage for the years since, and to-day our shortage is not 131,000, but is somewhere nearer 200,000. If you take the natural increment that is going on while these houses are being built we shall require to be built from now to the end of the 15 years that will complete the building programme over 300,000 houses. 160 We have 25,000 houses built, and all the time things are going from bad to worse. To meet our requirements each year we require not fewer than 10,000 houses. Five years have elapsed, and whereas during that period we should have had built 50,000 houses, only half that number have been completed, and we are now 23,000 houses short. At the moment, under the Chamberlain scheme, there are being built 2,039 under private enterprise, and the number under private enterprise for which proposals have been submitted is 1,474. I submit that the Chamberlain scheme has been a complete failure in Scotland. There are 300 local authorities in Scotland, and those which have asked for the right to pay subsidies number only 43. The local authorities which have obtained approval of proposals under the Act of 1923 number 220, but there have been applications for only 97 from private enterprise. Private enterprise in Scotland since the year 1907 has absolutely failed. That is long before the passing of the Land Act.
We want houses. I do not need to dilate on the disgraceful scandal of housing in Scotland, particularly In Glasgow, Dundee and other industrial areas. We are being held up to contumely throughout the world. Articles are being published holding up Scotland and the second city of the Empire as a disgrace, in the name of housing. We all want to alter that. To-day we are getting quibbles about this thing and that. No constructive proposal has been made to alter existing conditions. If they are bad, come along and tell us how to remedy them. Let us get settled down to do this work. If you do not settle down to do it, some day it will settle you. It is a cancer that is eating into the vitals of the nation. If you do not solve the problem, it will tend to dissolve this nation in a way that will be catastrophic. You want to prevent that. Instead of you bending your energies to solving the question, getting a beginning made, and redeeming the country from the degrading poverty and misery that is the accompanyment of our housing conditions, I hear quibbles on all sides about Labour this, that, and the other. If there is anything wrong, if there is a remedy, come along and help us, and remove a disgrace from the country to which the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Captain Elliot) and myself are proud to belong. I ask 161 his co-operation instead of the feeble criticism that he has given us to-day. Let the Bill go through. Whether the Bill he considered upstairs or here, bend your energies to amending it so that we shall get houses, labour and material, and thus complete a job that our countrymen will commend us for doing.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
It may seem some-think like presumption for any Member not on the Front Bench to venture to intervene in this discussion. We have listened for three how's to speeches from the two Front Benches. Even the personal reminiscences of the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Captain Elliot) as to his own interrogatories and the replies given to him, and his own relations with his successor in office, are, perhaps, not of that general interest which we would like to find in this Debate. The right hon. Gentleman, the Minister of Health, made one remark which I think was rather uncalled-for. He said that we regarded this question entirely from the party point of view. [Interruption.] May I ask the frequent interruptors on the opposite side to make their interruptions audible, so that one may possibly answer them? Unintelligible interruptions are not very helpful. It is said that we look on this question solely from the party point of view. It is rather curious that the one speech to which I have to-day listened with more assent than to any other, was not made from my own Front Bench but from the Front Bench opposite by the right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Master-man). I thought that his arguments were more clear and concise, more to the point and more logical than those which were vouchsafed from our own Front Bench.
I have listened, of course with the greatest edification, to speakers waxing into eloquence and an almost threatening amount of rhetoric, with regard to the very serious difficulty with which we are confronted. Does any hon. Member on the opposite benches think that we do not recognise that difficulty just as much as he does? Do hon. Members opposite think that they help towards the eliminating of that difficulty or the settlement of disputes by turgid appeals and threats of what will happen and how we will be carried away and overwhelmed if we do not accent exactly their views? 162 Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite must surely have learned that we are not likely to be led away by turgid stuff of that sort. We look at the question as logical men, I trust as men anxious to do our duty for the, benefit of others. But we are compelled to look at it with the eyes of common sense. It is a strange thing how, in regard to these questions, we never learn from the past and we always seek to forget the lessons of the past. I was brought up, I suppose, in what some would describe as a benighted age, on the orthodox teaching of political economy from Adam Smith and Ricardo down to john Stuart Mill. I was a diligent student, but not an enthusiastic disciple. In my youth the science came to be called "the dismal science." It gradually lost its attraction. I think I remember hearing Mr. Gladstone say from the Treasury Bench opposite that political economy had now been banished to Saturn.
After all, although banished to Saturn, it had an unpleasant way of reappearing, and it presented itself in the Manchester school in a form which was even repellent if not repulsive, but even if we disliked it in that school, it had its own logical revenge, and the Nemesis for infraction of its law is still apt to be severe. We may try to be benevolent under the influence of turgid rhetoric and strong appeals, but if we forget the fundamental laws which govern society, the fundamental economic laws, they will have their revenge. They are as true as the law of gravity, and the right hon. Gentleman can no more evade them in the long run than he can evade the law of gravity. However much he may sneer at them now, he will find them too strong for him in the end. We know, every man of us, that the system of subsidies, necessary though it may be in special circumstances, and though it is a course to which e may find ourselves compelled to resort in certain circumstances, is yet fraught with evil, and leads undoubtedly to great danger. Hon. Members opposite know as well as we do that the money paid in these subsidies is exactly the same as doles to the unemployed. There is no use denying it and splitting hairs. You are taking from the pockets of one set of men, and giving to another set, benefits beyond those which they would receive by their own exertions. Where does the dole come from? It may be said that it comes from 163 the pockets of the rich men, but hon. Members opposite know that it comes from the source out of which wages are paid to the working men of this country, and that they are the people who will chiefly suffer in the long run. We know quite well that these subsidies go in helping to pay wages which the employers ought to pay. Have hon. Members never read the Report of the Poor Law Commission of 1834, which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the lavish distribution of poor aid simply enabled the employers to pay miserably low wages to their employés? That has always been the effect of subsidies, and it will be so now.
I only ask that we should look at this question in a straightforward and common-sense way, governed by logic. Let us be as benevolent as we like, let us make the best that we can of our scheme, but do not let us think that we will do something by simply wishing to give charity when we do not study carefully its economic effects. Look at this particular scheme of the right hon. Gentleman! He himself admits its difficulties—indeed, his speech was an extraordinary one. I hope other hon. Members listened to it as carefully as I did, but I never heard a speech, able, dextrous, and moving as it was in many passages, which was so inconsistent and so extraordinarily diversified in its tone. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he did not want private enterprise; that he wished it to be scrapped and hoped to see the day when it would be scrapped. If I am misrepresenting him, I am open to correction. But he went on to say that he was the best friend to private enterprise, that he was the one person who was saving it, that he had done it more good than anybody else. That sort of talk may be very witty, but it does not persuade us of the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman. If you dislike private enterprise and if you are doing the best you can to destroy it, why call yourself its friend and seek to represent that you are doing everything for it? It may be witty, but it is not sound statesmanship nor is it grave argument.
I turn to another aspect of this question which has been entirely neglected in all the Debates I have heard on this subject, except for a short reference in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman 164 the Member for Rusholme. Let us suppose that you are going to get everything you desire to get as a result of this precious pact—a pact made with divers interests which I do not say are hostile, but are certainly not identical. All of these opposing agencies are equally responsible for carrying out the pact; but supposing you get out of it all you hope for, are you quite sure that your grandchildren in the year 1980 will thank you very much for what you have done? human nature is singularly capricious, and never shows its capriciousness more than in fashions and habits and inclinations with regard to houses and homes. We need only look back to our own middle age and youth to realise that habits of housing and homes and living have changed profoundly in the interval. It is only 30 or 40 years ago since the time when one would pass houses of the must luxurious sort, situated in the best localities, and inhabited by the richest people, and not one of them possessed a bath. Yet you consider, and rightly consider, that a bath is a necessity in every one of these little pill-boxes which you are now erecting. We know quite well that 100 years ago in Scotland people, not of the poorer class, but of the aristocracy, lived in great piles of houses 13 storeys high, with no supply of water to the top, no lift, none of these modern conveniences. Yet those people reared a healthy race, and led a most enjoyable life. I have slept, every night for weeks together in the little cupboard-bed of a crofter's home in the Highlands, and to sleep fur seven or eight hours in the peat-laden atmosphere of those little houses was not injurious to health. It must be. I believe, although I have no right to say so, that peat smoke is a powerful antiseptic. At all events, not only my occasional experience, but general experience shows that life in these houses was not unhealthy. A very hardy race was reared in those houses; they never complained, they lived happy lives, and were not unhealthy or inactive.
Things change, and we do not remember the changes, and, what is stranger still in humanity, we never allow our imaginations to picture to us what may come in another generation. We blind ourselves to it all. Do not hon. Members think that there may be considerable changes in the way of co-operative housing in another generation?. What of the middle 165 class in English life? How many thousands of men are there who are members of great clubs, not poor men, but at the same time men of narrow means, who practically live in luxurious clubs, having the advantage of large libraries, writing rooms, dining rooms, and so on, and who probably live very cheaply? They live their whole lives, except their working hours, in clubs, and at night occupy a small bedroom in another locality. Is it not possible that we may some day find that it is not an altogether unhappy way of living, that families should join together, have certain common recreation rooms, and small rooms allotted to each, where they might have their awn meals? You are going, however, to settle this country with 2,500,000 of these little pill-box dwellings, where the people are all to be separate and all to live in a monotonous way in these dreary little cottages. Already one has heard complaints coming from some of these dwellings; people say: "They are very nice, but it is dreadfully monotonous to have 50 houses exactly the same all round one, without any individual character." I think a little more dexterity and ingenuity on the part of the architects might adapt many of the huge empty houses one sees about London to the needs of the present time, but strangely enough human nature finds a way out for itself. Pass along many of these streets now, and you find them almost entirely occupied, not by separate houses, but by large boarding houses. It means a complete change in the life of the Londoner. You have families living together who never thought of doing so. I would hate it, personally. I could not endure it, and it would be a misery to me. I would much rather live in the humblest cottage in the Highlands of Scotland, but there are an immense number of my fellow citizens who prefer that sort of life and think it cheerful and pleasant, and apparently they are growing in number. Do not let us think that we are by this Bill pointing the way that the life of the country is Ito be regulated two generations hence, by fixing upon them our present ideas, either as to home life or as to the arrangement of our houses. These will change, as surely as I stand here.
I remember hearing another hon. Member advocate some years ago that a 166 great deal of public money might well be spent in building baths and recreation places on a far greater scale, and really it might bring about a great deal of happiness. I would go back to the model of ancient Rome. Think what a luxury it must have been to the poorest classes in Rome, and how different it must have made their lives to have had these baths and recreation rooms, rather than an endless number of tiny brick boxes. Just think how much our life is influenced by the atmosphere. Do you think a Sicilian or a Neapolitan would have thought you were benefiting him half as much by giving him a little brick house, which kept the sun off him, rather than by building for him a splendid recreation ground or a splendid set of baths? Do not let us think we are going to make our fellow subjects completely happy by arranging them in these neatly contrived, subsidised, State-arranged dwellings. Life is changing, and have we any right to mortgage more than £2,000,000,000 of the taxes of our grandchildren of two generations ahead in providing them with some sort of dwellings which we have no right to be sure will be the sort of dwellings they want or that they would seek to have? You are doing it on wrong lines. You are doing it without carefully considering and weighing the financial considerations. I do not think the visions and the aspirations of the right hon. Gentleman will be fulfilled. I do not think the proposal will hold water, financially or economically, and we know, whether it be right or wrong, whether the right hon. Gentleman likes private enterprise or not, that it has endured for centuries as the motive power in this nation and that it has worked, as it must continue to work, however you try to change it, by the immutable law of supply and demand.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
There is one point with which I agree in the speech of the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), and that is that we ought not to stereotype for a long period of years the type of house to be built. The bad precedent, however, which we are now following, was set by the Government he himself supported.
§ Mr. MILLAR
Yes, it was a precedent set by that Government, who passed their 1923 Bill with these 167 dimensions in it. I agree also with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Health for Scotland that the. Act of 1923 has been a failure, so far as its application to Scotland is concerned, but it is because we are interested to see that the present Bill is not also a failure that we are coming forward with criticisms, which, I hope, will be regarded as helpful. The Parliamentary Secretary also appealed to us to come to the assistance of the Government and cooperate with them, and in that respect I would like to associate myself with the eloquent speech of the right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) in the view, which he expressed from these 'benches, that we are most anxious indeed that this question should not he approached from any party point of view, but that we should all do what we can to try and mould and develop this scheme, so that it may prove to be the best and most efficient scheme for a solution of the housing problem in this country. I agree with the right hon. Member for Rusholme that the Government have made a very profound mistake in the narrow form in which they have drawn the Financial Resolution and also the form of the Bill. I am surprised to think that, with the experience that they must have gained from what has taken place during the' past year, they were not prepared to view this question from a more statesmanlike point of view. The Minister of Health, I think, informed the House that in this matter he had secured substantial agreement amongst the local authorities. I have been informed, in most reliable quarters, that instead of all local authorities being agreed on that point, there are many who desire to have the matter re-opened, and I feel quite sure, speaking for Scotland, that his decision in this respect is going to narrow and seriously prejudice the success of the Measure in various ways.
I should like to refer to the interests of one or two sections of the population in Scotland which I have the honour to represent, particularly the case of fishing communities around our Scottish coasts. It has been discovered, in the course of the past year, that in building fishermen's houses it is essential that accommodation should be provided for the storing, drying and keeping of their 168 nets and gear, and that schemes, which otherwise would be carried out in these communities, are not being carried out, because under the dimensions mentioned in the Act of 1923, if the gear accommodation is included, the limit is exceeded. I have been in communication with the Secretary for Scotland and the Board of Health on this subject, and various efforts have been made to get out of the difficulty, but there is no way of doing so, except by giving power to local authorities to alter the dimensions to meet the varying needs of the population for whom the houses are built. If there is to be no time to reconsider this matter, I tell the right hon. Gentleman he will be responsible for the failure of many schemes for fishing communities in Scotland which are very much required at the present moment.
Let me turn to the rural population. The suggestion has been made that, under this Bill, there will be a special effort to deal with the rural areas. In my judgment, a- subsidy of £12 10s. in rural areas might have been applied also to the smaller burgh areas, which will find the burden on the rates very serious indeed. It will mean that in many cases there will be no building at all in these smaller burghs. But, so far as agricultural areas are concerned, I feel sure this Measure would have been enormously more effective had, again, the dimensions not been so strictly limited. In Scotland we have a large population of crofters, small landholders, and small farm servants and men engaged in agriculture, and I venture to say without any hesitation that the scheme embodied in the right hon. Gentleman's Bill is going to cause great discontent throughout Scotland in its failure to deal with the case of the crofter and the small landholder who, under this Bill, I believe, will be entirely cut out from any of the advantages proposed by the Government in its new scheme. I think it is desirable that that point should be brought to the right hon. Gentleman's attention, and should be urged upon him, before it is too late, because on him, again, will rest the responsibility of failure, to meet a very urgent need in Scotland, namely, the assistance which is required to provide houses for a most deserving class of men, many of them ex-service men, who have settled there as crofters and smallholders under the scheme. 169 What is the position of these crofters? There was, undoubtedly, under the 1919 Act, an affort made to meet their case by a special grant made under the private builders' subsidy, which was extended in 1922 to even a reduced standard of houses in some parts of Scotland. That has ceased. Crofters, small landholders and settlers have the same housing needs as other classes of the community, and it is a blemish on the scheme that you are going to exclude from participation in a benefit to be provided from public funds one section of the population in urgent need of housing accommodation.
There is one other point with regard to rural housing. The Report of the Royal Commission indicated a most deplorable state of affairs with regard to housing amongst farm servants and labourers in Scotland, and I think T might say the same conditions exist in England. What was proposed by that Commission was, that there should be an immediate survey of all the buildings in agricultural districts in Scotland, in order that steps might be taken immediately to deal with this problem. So far as I know, that survey has never been completed. It is very urgent to-day that not only the local authorities should be urged to take steps but that, the Board of Health should take the initiative in working out a complete scheme which would be applicable to the whole country. If that scheme is to be effective, it is essential that the maximum and minimum limits under the Act of 1923 should be varied, in order that houses may be built to meet the needs in each particular district. There, again, I would strongly urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that if he is going to make his scheme a success, he must take action at once to secure that the needs of the rural areas are fully explored and considered, and that more adequate steps are taken to deal with them. As Minister of Health he must himself act in the matter.
I regret that the Government have not given us more guidance as to how they will treat slum clearance schemes in future. In Scotland we have had a miserable grant of some £35,000, now extended to £45,000, to meet the whole needs of our country, and T venture to say to the Minister that not only is that abso- 170 lutely insufficient to deal with the situation, but that you will never make any progress at all unless you are prepared to meet the case of the slum areas. I agree with the right hon. Member for Rusholme that you cannot deal with that alone, but you must deal at the same time with new building and provide other houses for other sections of the community, but more money is urgently required in order to improve those areas, Or in many cases sweep the old houses away, and provide new houses altogether.
I do make the plea, in conclusion, that this housing Measure, which all here are so deeply concerned to see put into effective shape, should receive the fullest further consideration, and that there should be the fullest opportunity for Amendment and suggestion in this House before it is finally shaped and carried into operation. It has been suggested that the proposal to take the Bill on the Floor of the House is intended to destroy the Bill, but I want to say to one or two of my hon. Friends on the Government benches Who made the suggestion that they are entirely wrong in that suggestion. It is because we believe that we shall have a fuller and better opportunity or moulding the Bill, and putting it into a better shape, that we ask that it should be fully discussed in the House. May I conclude with an appeal to the right hon. Gentle-roan that even at this hour he will not stand upon his dignity but be prepared to reconsider the terms of the financial Resolution, and the form of the Bill, and put them into a shape that will satisfy the best informed opinion in the House.
§ Mr. NICHOL
I have listened to the many criticisms made upon the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. Some are helpful. The majority are destructive criticisms. Listening to the last speech of the hon. Member for East. Fife (Mr. D. Millar) one would imagine that the workers in the rural districts, as well as the workers in the town districts of Glasgow, and the fishermen in Scotland, were inhabiting houses of 950 superficial feet. What is the actual truth of the matter? It is that the great majerity of fishermen in Scotland, the rural workers in Scotland and the labourers in the cities of Scotland live in single-apartment houses, that measure roughly about 12 to 14 feet, and 171 have a superficial area of about 168 feet. If we can persuade the local authorities to go to the limit that they are entitled to under this Bill we will increase the area of these houses in Scotland for the great majority of workers six times over.
§ Mr. MILLAR
I referred to a case actually submitted to me, namely, a proposed housing scheme in a fishing centre which the local authority was interested in promoting, but where the required dimensions were found in some respects to exceed the dimensions in this Bill, including garrets for storage of nets and gear, and therefore the scheme could not be put into operation.
§ Mr. NICHOL
Where it is properly designed and built I think 950 superficial feet does provide a good five-apartment house. If it does that, the present Housing Bill is going to be a great improvement, not only in the housing conditions in Scotland, but all over Great Britain. What are the actual conditions of the housing problem in Scotland? It is not a post-War phenomenon this housing problem. The Scottish Housing Commission which sat between 1912–17, when it reported, took 1911, three years before the War, as the basic year on which it founded its conclusions. At that time it found that there were 129,730 one-apartment dwellings in Scotland, many of them occupied by more than one family, and with an average superficial area of under 200 feet. There were 300,000 two-apartment houses, so that more than 52 per cent. of the population were living ill a single-apartment, and in kitchen houses. That is to say, about 2,400,000 people were living in these houses. That is the proposition we are up against; that is the difficulty and problem we have to face.
It is no use for the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Captain Elliot) coming along and making out that the Chamberlain scheme is a success in Scotland. I am going to deal with the houses it is producing and has produced. It is producing them at the rate of seven per month. In 1911 there was a shortage of 120,000 houses. I agree with the present Under-Secretary of Health for Scotland when he said a few months ago that the need in Scotland just now is for at least 172 200,000 houses. The Chamberlain scheme was not coming up to this in any respect. The Chamberlain scheme may have been a success in some rapidly developing districts near to towns in England, but it is a hopeless failure in Scotland. One of the arguments that has been used is the argument that the scheme does not provide for adequate labour. I am going to suggest that there are only two methods of procuring labour—the ordinary one—and by far the more preferable—of bringing lads in as apprentices in the ordinary course of the industry, and the other one by taking in adult labourers and giving them a partial training. Both of these methods are provided for. I am not going to suggest that you will find all this in the four corners of the Bill. I hardly think the Minister of Health set out to get into the four corners of this Bill every jot and tittle that is included in the elaborate Report. I do not suppose there is anyone in the House here would ever pretend that such a huge omnibus Bill would have any practical use, or ever get through the Committee stage.
In dealing with apprentices, I notice that the Member for Kelvingrove, speaking as an ex-Minister of Health for Scotland, produced a very curious argument. He said that if you take a number of apprentices, and the houses being built under State jurisdiction in Scotland at the present time, the proportion was one apprentice to two journeymen. I am quite certain that if he had had the latest figures, and had taken one particular scheme I could tell him of, he probably would have discovered two apprentices to one journeyman. After all, however, that is not the method of dealing with the industry as a whole. There is no reason merely to consider these 568 bricklayers who happen to be employed on the remnant of the Addison scheme in Scotland—because it is only a remnant. The actual position has been explained over and over again in this House. Even under present trade union rules there are 34,000 apprentices short in the industry. But I object to Scotland being looked upon as a comparatively water-tight apartment. I do not think that either in the production of Prime Ministers, or of bricklayers' apprentices, that Scotland need be taken as being a place from which 173 people cannot migrate to other parts of Great Britain.
§ Mr. W. GREENWOOD
On a point of Order. Is it in order that this Debate should be confined entirely to Scotland?
§ Mr. NICHOL
I suggest that the Bill does apply to Scotland, and that it is better that in a problem of this kind one should talk about the districts of which we know something. I am not going to pretend to have the pontifical attitude of the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hopkinson), who suggests that all we need to do as a House of Commons is to go on a perpetual holiday, and that he will run the country for us. He knows how to do it! For that reason I want to say a word or two on one or two points connected with the scheme. I have said something about the limits of the house. I agree with the hon. Member who spoke last that I should like to have seen the upper room increased by 100 feet, and I feel that the danger of lowering the housing standard in Scotland and England lies with the local authorities. Some members of my own county council are demanding that they should be allowed to build houses in Renfrewshire, room, and kitchen houses, in the middle of the rural districts and small country villages, and they want a room of 400 feet. I hope the Minister of Health will insist on 550 feet, which gives quite a respectable house.
With regard to money, I remember in the last Parliament one afternoon the present Leader of the Opposition, who was then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, coming down to the House and quietly announcing that for the next 61 years this country was going to be burdened with the repayment of its American War Debt. I calculate that that sum is going to be twice as much as the annual cost of the whole of this housing scheme, and that proposal went through with very little opposition. We know now that when the scheme for the refunding of the American debt went through, a meeting of the bankers in New York was called to find out how they could get rid of the difficulty by a cheaper method. I think the House was rather remiss in its criticism of that particular transaction, and so far as the cost of the housing scheme is concerned we must remember that the housing of the people is a matter of primary necessity, and must and ought to 174 take precedence over questions like the repayment of our debt under the American loan.
I think that the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin), in fastening on to the country that enormous payment, was a mistake that will have to be rectified before we part with the actual cost of the housing scheme. As an annual charge the sum required for housing is very small compared with the total necessary annually for which we pay for the redemption of the National Debt,. I would like to remind those who are opposing this scheme on that ground that they will find there is going to be a fight in the country as to the way in which these payments are going on perpetually in regard to the National Debt and the American loan. Some of us are prepared to demand that the housing of the people shall be placed before these other things.
Personally, I feel there are many things I should like to see improved in the present housing Measure, but I do recognise that so far as the scheme is concerned it is the biggest effort that has been made by any party, and it is the most watertight scheme we can get. So far as the bigger scheme is concerned, if the Labour party had a majority I would not agree to these proposals, but I would ask for something larger. As the country has decided that we are to have private enterprise with all its difficulties, we are adopting a scheme which may limit us in our aspirations, but which is much larger than anything any other party has produced. On these grounds this Measure deserves our support, and will receive it this evening.
§ Mr. WRAGG
In addressing the. House for the first time I confidently ask for that indulgence which is always extended to a new Member making his first effort. I have been much impressed with what I have heard from hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies, and it may not be out of place that you, Mr. Speaker, have called upon one on this side of the House representing an English constituency. I desire mainly to deal with this question from the point of view of dilution. On this side of the House we all desire houses just as much as hon. Members on the benches opposite, perhaps one might say even more so, although we do not protest quite as much. As we all 175 desire to extend the programme for houses and remedy those conditions which are so painful, and in fact appalling in many parts of the country, we have to look from a practical point of view as to how we are to get those houses.
Is it not a fact that there is not a single bricklayer or carpenter out of work to-day, and the whole question is as to whether you can increase the number of men in the building trade in order to build the houses which are so urgently required? In my opinion apprenticeship is a very slow procedure. If you are going to admit, as is proposed, apprentices under the age of 21 and not take them over that age, you are going to have quite a limited field, and it will take many years before you are able to introduce a large number of bricklayers, carpenters or plasterers into the building trade. Therefore you have to decide how you are going to get them. You will have to decide whether you are going to stop other building going on. Are you going to stop the building of the houses for the man who desires a house costing £1,000? Are you going to stop a man employing bricklayers on a factory? If you are not going to do that, and if you are going to continue in the same way as to-day you will have to depend on your apprentices coming along, and this will take a good deal of time, or you must seek for other remedies.
To my mind there are other remedies, and they are not to be found in that fantastic suggestion proposed in the Bill of the hon. Member for Shrewebury (Mr. Sunlight). It is not to be found in the hope that you may be able to get 3½-inch bricks at the same price as you pay for 2¾-inch bricks, or in the suggestion that 3½-inch bricks will cover more ground and cost no more and that the bricklayer will lay 3½-inch bricks at the same cost as he lays 2¾-inch bricks. I venture to suggest that, if the bricks used in London were to be standardised at 3½ inches, we should very soon have another building strike, and the bricklayer's labourer would certainly refuse to carry as many 3½-inch bricks as 2¾-inch bricks up a ladder on to the scaffolding. If I may deal with that Bill for a few moments, although I know it is strictly out of order, I should like to suggest that it does take 25 per cent. more 176 clay to make a 3½-inch brick than to make a 2¾-inch brick it does take at least 25 per cent. more labour, and at least 25 per cent. more coal, and, therefore, it is fantastic to suggest that 3½-inch bricks can be produced at the same price as bricks 2¾ inches thick. That, to my mind, is absolutely ridiculous, and I speak with a certain amount of practical knowledge.
My suggestion, which I put forward in all humility, is that the employés in the building trade should look at this question without prejudice. They should look at it in the same way in which employés in other industries look at their work, and should consider whether some method of payment by results is not possible in the building trade. The building trade, far as I know, is practically the only trade which has no piecework, or in which no piecework is allowed by the union officials that regulate and run the trade. If bricklayers and carpenters and plasterers could be got to carry out their work on a system of payment by results, the output would be inceased by at least 50 per cent. with the same number of bricklayers, plasterers and carpenters. I think it is a well-known fact to-day that 500 bricks per day is a good average for a bricklayer to lay in London. All bricklayers are not equal, as all men are not equal; in fact, no two bricklayers are equal. One bricklayer might quite easily, on a housing scheme, be able to lay 1,000 bricks a day, whereas another would not be able to lay more than 500 or 600. But you cannot alter human nature. I presume that all the employés in the building trade desire to put forth their best efforts mainly for their own class, because it is for their own class that these houses are urgently wanted. If we cannot rely on the people working in the building trade to do their best to get these houses, we cannot rely on anyone, because they have an absolutely personal interest in the matter.
I think the House will agree that, if one man can lay 1,000 and another only 500 bricks per day, you will not get the one man to lay 1,000 bricks per day if he is only going to be paid the same money as the man alongside him who lays 500 per day. It is an absolute impossibility. My suggestion would be that you should take the present average number of bricks laid by a bricklayer per day, and—assuming it to be 500—base the piecework rate on 500, so that, if a man lays 1,000 bricks per day, 177 he should be paid twice as much as he would be paid for laying 500. By that means you would get, with the same number of bricklayers, certainly an average of 750 bricks laid per day. I have employed many bricklayers myself, and I know that they can lay 750 bricks a day in a housing scheme with the utmost possible ease if they desire to do so, and if they lay 750 per day instead of the present average of 500, it would be equal to a 50 per cent. dilution. If we are going to wait for apprenticeship to give us 50 per cent. dilution and 50 per cent. more houses, we shall have to wait for many years.
I also desire to make one remark which, perhaps, will not be very popular. I make it, however, from my experience in regard to engineering works and the building of houses. It is that, on the present system of day work, the busier you get, and the more demand there is for bricklayers, the fewer bricks a bricklayer lays. I have had that experience continually, and the reason is not far to find. If you are employing bricklayers on a day-work system, the bricklayer does a fair day's work, because he knows that things are moderately slack, so that, if he does not do a pretty good day's work, he may have to give place to someone else. But if things are busy and there is a premium upon bricklayers, then, when his foreman says, "We are not getting on quite as quickly as we ought to do," he can say to him, "Well, I will go across the road. I can get more money there, and be talked to quite politely."
I do not know whether it is known in this House, but it is an indisputable fact that it costs more to lay bricks in London than it costs to manufacture bricks and put them on rail, and, I will even go so far as to say, to deliver them in London. Fletton bricks to-day are put on rail at Fletton at 35s. per 1,000. The rate to London is 17s. 3d., making 52s. 3d. per 1,000 bricks. Assuming that a bricklayer lays 500 bricks per day, you have to take the wages of the bricklayer and his labourer, which I make to be 3s. 3d. per hour for the bricklayer and labourer together. It may be a little less. I am giving the bricklayer is. 9d. or 1s. 10d., but one does not know what one has to pay in these days, because they are at such a premium. I am assuming, however, that a bricklayer and his labourer 178 take 3s. 3d. per hour, which, in an 8-hour clay, would make 26s., and if they lay 500 bricks, that works out at 52s. per 1,000, which is practically the price at which Fletton bricks can be delivered at a London station to-day. It seems to me that, if in a brickyard you can take the overburden off the clay, excavate the clay, grind it, make it into bricks, take them to kilns, and set them up in kilns, and if you can purchase the necessary coal and stores for the manufacture, and then load the bricks into trucks and at the same time pay 17s. 3d. per 1,000 for bringing them to London, all these operations ought to cost very much more than laying 1,000 bricks; and, therefore, it seems to me that a case is made out that a bricklayer to-day could do much more work if he could be paid by results. But ii he is paid on a day-work system you will never get any more. In fact, if the trade gets very busy, fewer bricks will be laid.
There are other methods of building, and I take it that the Minister of Health has considered them. There is the question of concrete. It is quite possible to build concrete houses, and, although they have not been very satisfactory up to the present, they may in the future be much more satisfactory than they have been, and by that means it may be possible to employ a larger amount of unskilled labour than is employed at the present time. I take it that, if there is a shortage of bricklayers, we must look for some other alternative method which does not need bricklayers. From my experience the bricklayers' lahourer in a very short time, although he may be 30 or 40 years of age, can be trained to lay bricks. That is, of course, one method of dilution. If the trade unions would lay aside their rules and say, "We honestly desire that houses should be built in larger numbers than at the present time," I feel sure something could be done to get them. I would therefore suggest that, before the House really gives a Second Reading to a Bill of this sort, the matter should be explored further to see whether there is anything in the Bill or not. Personally, I do not think there is very much in it, because unless you can relax those rules you will not get houses. I have detained the House longer than I intended, and I apologise if I have unnecessarily bored them, but I will now take my seat with feelings of the utmost relief.
§ Mr. HINDLE
I think the figures which have been quoted are open to criticism. As I understand it, a brick-setter does not have the exclusive services of a labourer. Undoubtedly the object of this Bill is to cause the erection of houses for letting rather than for sale. Up to a point that is an object with which I am sure the whole House must be in sympathy. I do not think it is an unfair criticism to say that the provisions of this Bill are so exclusively in the direction of building houses for letting that the results are very unjust in other directions, because as has been pointed out, the inevitable effect of saying that all the houses to be built are for letting would be to cramp, if not entirely exterminate, the services of the small speculative builder, who, whatever may have been his faults, has undoubtedly contributed the very greatest service to the building of small houses in this country. If it has the effect of damping down private enterprise in the building of houses for sale, it will be nothing less than a calamity. Surely it is not an offence for a man to own his house. The town which I have the honour to represent is, I think, unique through the country in this, that out of 10,000 houses, there are no fewer than 5,000 owned by the people who occupy them. References are made to mortgages. It has been the result of incessant thrift on the part of those owners, aided by co-operative and building societies in that district. They have all been paid for by instalments. What are the results? First of all, you get a pride of ownership. Then you get a great inducement to thrift, in itself excellent, but not too fashionable at the present moment. It gives stability in the district, it enables it to withstand all the cycles of bad trade and depression. As the owner-occupier invariably pays the rates—in our district the tenant never pays the rates—it causes him to have a greater interest in the actions of his own local authority. Surely hon. Members know that the greatest asset of our ally France lies in her peasant proprietors. If you had the same system of small ownership, both in land and houses, applied to England to a greater extent than it has been, it would go far to increase her prosperity.
My second point of objection is the grave doubt which I have, and which is 180 honestly shared by every Member of this House, whether this Bill is really going to produce houses. There are two difficulties to be overcome—labour and the cost of materials. Under existing circumstances it is perfectly fair to say that all available labour in the building trade is being utilised. Unless there is going to be a large influx of labour into the building trade and the building materials trade, there is going to be no increase in the number of houses to be built have the greatest sympathy with the fear of the trade unions against dilution, if one may use so highly debateable a word. We have also to remember that we are confronted with a national emergency, and if the existing men in the building trade can have, as I think they can have, a guarantee of constant and consistent work for 15 years, there should be no difficulty in admitting very large increases of new labour into the trade. They would be sheltered to an extent unknown to any other trade in the country. I do hope the Government will press this point as much as it can and endeavour to come to a satisfactory and reasonable settlement with the trade unions on this matter. It goes to the very rout of their scheme, because if they do not get this new labour there will be no new houses, or rather there will be no more new houses than there would be under the existing laws.
The next difficulty is costs. We are promised an anti-profiteering Bill, and we have it as a Bill, but it is rather unfortunate to my mind, seeing that these two matters are se dovetailed one with another, that we cannot discuss the details of that anti-profiteering Bill at the same time as we discuss this measure. Insofar as the Government make efforts to stop profiteering we shall be with them heart and soul most of us on these benches. I am only a back bencher, a very raw and new recruit at that, but I do know sufficient of the spirit and thoughts of my neighbours to know we shall be with them heart and soul on those lines. Lastly, may I just emphasise what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) emphasised in his earlier speech, namely, the stabilising of the maximum standard of size of the houses. Nearly every speaker has referred to this and I hope the Minister of Health will see the significance of, I do not call it the attack, but the pleading on our benches and the 181 benches opposite, and I believe the benches behind him, to listen to reason on this matter. It is true that the Government have been extraordinarily obdurate and stubborn in this matter. If they would yield they would give the utmost satisfaction, especially in the North of England. Let me impress upon the Government also that they would ensure good-will in the carrying out of this scheme among the local authorities in the North of England.
I am very pleased to see the Under-Secretary present. He represents a division close to my own—one which has the reputation of having some of the finest working-class houses in the country in it. Let him go to his own constituency and measure some of the better class working houses there. I may be wrong, but I suspect very strongly that not one of them would come in under his subsidy scheme under this Bill as to size. What is more, the Government could give way on this matter with dignity, because it is an extraordinary thing that it should be necessary at all to make this plea to the Minister of Health, for no one was more eloquent and no one was more scathing than he was in his denunciation of the late Government when they were putting forward houses of 850 superficial feet. He was dead against that, and therefore I cannot understand why he is so obdurate and stubborn as he seems to be. We are told, in a vague sort of way, that there is an arrangement with some local authorities. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to be a good deal more explicit and clear, and to tell the House definitely what is the bargain he has made with tile local authorities on this question of size, and whether they have stood out for this particular size. I know that in the north of England the local authorities have the very strongest objection to it.
I earnestly beg the Minister of Health to reconsider this question of size. I want to impress upon him that the feeling in regard to it is much stronger than he seems to realise. It is not a political feeling. It is the best opinion of the foremost housing reformers in the Kingdom. The National Housing and Town Planning Council have expostulated strongly on this matter, and I therefore do hope he will listen to our pleading in regard to it. As to the Amendment, to my mind it is en absolutely wrecking Amendment, and I am not going to vote for it. We on these 182 benches are going to offer suggestions. We are anxious to co-operate with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health. I see no reason for the cynical laughter of hon. Members opposite. If it is going to be suggested that we on these benches have anything to gain as a party by helping our friends above the Gangway, I deny it; on the contrary, we have everything to lose and nothing to gain, and therefore if we do help them we ought to be given credit for sincerity.
Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I shall not attempt to deal with the many statements which have been made in the course of this Debate, as I wish to confine my remarks almost exclusively to replying to the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) who moved the rejection of this Bill. The Noble Lord represents, or rather misrepresents, Hastings, and he said that the Bill would not do what it purports to do. I suppose he found his justification for that remark in the failure of the 1923 Housing Act to deliver the goods at all. When the Minister of Health introduced the Financial Resolution he told us that the greater part of the available building labour had been diverted to the erection of houses for commercial purposes and large residences, and that less than 20 per cent. of the labour had been allocated to building houses for the working classes. The right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman), who followed the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings, declared that the question of building labour was one on which the House should concentrate its attention. He complains rather bitterly of the form of the Financial Resolution, and suggested that little or no opportunity would be provided for the Committee to amend the Bill. He reminded us that in 1908, when the Liberals were in power and introduced their Housing Bill, they made the Financial Resolution as broad as possible so that Amendments could be moved in Committee. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot to tell the House that in 1908 the Liberal Government had an independent majority, and no matter how many Amendments had been moved they were in a position to carry their policy through the House.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I was partly in charge of that Bill. On the Committee there was no question of politics, and a 183 large number of Amendments were carried against the wish of the Government and were accepted by the Government. That is the way this Measure ought to be dealt with.
Every Member of the Opposition who has spoken on this Bill, and hon. Members below the Gangway on this side have expressed distrust of the Bill, and, therefore, I think it is not unfair to say that that is a reason for mistrusting the action of those who have been in power so long and yet have failed to deliver the goods in the form of houses for working people. The Noble Lord tells us that the financial provisions of the Bill are hopelessly impracticable, and he seeks to frighten hon. Members of this House by telling thorn that the municipal authorities in the course of 15 years will find themselves in debt to the extent of £625,000,000 providing this Bill is carried through and the houses are actually delivered. First the Noble Lord says no houses will be delivered, and then he tells us that the municipal authorities will get into debt to the extent of £625,000,000! I would ask the Noble Lord and the House whether they really regard money borrowed for the purpose of building houses as a debt, or whether they would not prefer to describe it as of the nature of an investment. Some 10 or 20 years ago the municipalities of Great Britain were regarded as being in debt to the extent of a few hundred million pounds. To-day they can be regarded as being in debt to the extent of well over £1,000,000,000. They own electricity undertakings, tramway undertakings, water supplies, and many other municipal services. Therefore, there is no such thing as debt while the asset is actually more than equivalent to any of the loans which the municipalities have entered into. Therefore, these specious arguments about municipal debt ought not to carry the House for a moment. A city of the size of Glasgow, for a penny rate under the terms of this Bill, could provide 9,000 houses, and if they undertook to make that contribution of a penny rate, which would neither cripple the average workman nor the industry in that city, when one remembers the improved health and improved morality in that city, will they not get more than an ample return for the penny outlay they will have to 184 meet? These financial arguments seem to me to be not directed to the real economics of the situation, but merely to confuse the minds of Members who have not been aware of the arguments submitted in days gone by. If there is any opportunity to attack the Minister of Health, it seems to me it lies in the direction Of the small municipalities, where a penny rate would only bring in from £100 to £200. A penny rate there would only build a comparatively few houses.
£10,000. If the hon. Member will examine the Glasgow rates he will better understand their powers under this Housing Bill. If there is any weakness in the Bill it seems to me it lies in the direction of small municipalities where industries are fast developing and they could only erect a comparatively small number of houses for the expenditure of a penny rate. With regard to materials, the Noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill told us it would prove hopeless so far as providing the necessary materials at reasonable prices was concerned. The Labour party and the members of it are not the people who supply building materials, and if they would only ask their friends who are so fond of exploiting the national needs they would get a better supply of materials at cheap, q: rates than they are getting at present. May I remind the House of the encouragement that hon. Members opposite actually give to the people who supply materials for the purpose of erecting houses. This was the statement made during the Second Reading of the 1923 Act:I do not know why hon. Members should expect that the prices at any particular moment should be standardised. It is not so with wages, and it is not to be expected in the prices of building materials.That was the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill—the then Minister of Health. He not only did not deprecate the increase in the mice of building material but he actually encouraged the exploiting of the situation, with the inevitable result that prices automatically increased. Municipalities which had no confidence in the then Government hesitated before they undertook housing 185 schemes, resulting as it did in a comparatively few houses being built by municipalities whilst the major portion were built by private enterprise for sale and not for letting to the people who actually needed them.
Then with regard to public utility societies, the Noble Lord, in his Amendment, suggests that the Government is attempting to put private enterprise out of business. He told the Minister of Health he knew little or nothing about building, and it seems to me from his statement that he must know very little about public utility societies, or he would not be pleading for them here, for if there is one piece of legislation that lends itself to exploitation during the past few years I think it is the public utility societies which have been operating under the 1923 Act. If the Noble Lord, and many hon. Members opposite, could tome to some of the South Yorkshire mining districts aid sec the houses that are being built by the public utility societies and note the construction of them and the general lay-out they would not only feel that they had thrown the taxpayers' money away, but they would feel disgusted at the action they took in 1923. We who are living in these districts, where the local councils cannot in many instances supply the urgent needs of the people, are compelled to accept public utility societies, and it inevitably results in this. You get slum property, you get exploitation in its worst possible sense, you get the men working at the colliery in the colliery company's houses, and they have intolerable conditions imposed upon them if they want to tenant the house for any length of time. They dare not object to anything that the employers impose upon them. They know if they lose their work, they also lose the house, and it seems to ins if there is any good point in the Bill at all it certainly is that public utility societies are going to be curbed, municipalities are going to be helped, and there will be a possibility of workmen being free men, who have not to tenant the houses which will be built under the terms of this Bill. This Bill is the best effort that has been made so far. The vested interests which sit not only opposite but below the Gangway will be tested when the time comes for taking the Vote, and particularly will their sincerity be on test when the Committee 186 stage comes round and the Building Material Supply Anti-Profiteering Bill enters the House as to whether they are really desirous or not of providing houses for the workpeople.
§ Mr. E. D. SIMON
I want to refer particularly to one aspect of this problem in connection with the extra subsidy which is being given under the Bill, and in particular to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Money Resolution a fortnight ago. He said at tint time that although the rents of these houses when built were going to be 9s. 9d, a week, he could, if he dealt with the matter from the point of view of real Socialism, build houses and let them at 3s. 3d. a week. I dealt in a letter to the "Times" with that matter, of which no notice was taken, and I rather assumed that the right hon. Gentleman repented of what he had said and intended to drop it. But no such thing. I have here apamphlet which has been published by the Labour party, which repeats the whole speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It was obviously considered to be a speech which was of value in the country. The point which is of greatest value is reprinted on the front page. It is headed:Where the Rent Goes. 3s. 3d. for those Who provide the land, materials and labour, and 6s. 6d. to the moneylenders.The right hon. Gentleman proposes, apparently, to give a sum amounting, I think, to £11,000,000 a year hi increased subsidy to these moneylenders. That is a point which requires some consideration and some elucidation. The right hon. Gentleman smiles. Perhaps he will explain why he is proposing this largely increased subsidy to moneylenders. His statement is quite clear that the rent under Socialism would be 3s. 3d. This is rather an extraordinary statement for somebody in the position of, the right hon. Gentleman. He has, apparently, completely forgotten that 3s. 3d. is the cost of the land on which the buildings are to be erected. Then there is the cost of repairs and maintenance, which amount to 2s. per week. Even leaving that out of account, what exactly does he mean?
Apparently £500 is to be paid for the house when it is built. Under Socialism, that cost is to be spread over 60 years at £8 6s. 8d. a year, multiplied by 60, and then you divide it again by 52, and bring it down to 3s. 3d. a week. That, I take it, is what the right hon. Gentleman means. 187 At any rate, that is what he said. He said that the people who build the house take 3s. 3d. a week. What does he mean by "take" 3s. 3d.? He says that the bricklayer takes 2½d. a week. The wages of the bricklayer are about £32 10s., and he divides that by 60, and again by 52, and says that he only takes 2½d. a week. No doubt, if he builds houses under real Socialism, and the bricklayer comes to him and says, "I want my wages, £32 10s.," the right hon. Gentleman will say, "Here you are. There is 2½. for you. Take it, and come back every Saturday for the 2½d." That is exactly what he says, in effect.
Assuming that the Manchester City Council built houses at £500 each by direct labour, pure Socialism, which will cost 13s. rent, because they have to borrow the money and to pay interest. There are only two possibilities open to the council. One is that they should pay for the labour and the materials by weekly instalments, in which case nobody would supply either labour or materials. They would say, "We prefer capitalism to this Socialism of yours." The other possibility is, that the city council should pay the £500 and recoup itself by receiving 3s. 3d. per week rent for 60 years. The city council would be out of pocket to the extent of 9s 9d. per week per house. Which of these two schemes does the right hon. Gentleman mean? Does he mean that he is going to pay for these houses by a, capital levy. [Laughter] Hon. Members laugh. This is a perfectly serious economic argument, that is, assuming that the right hon. Gentleman was talking sense at the time. If it be true that he can under Socialism build these houses and let them at 3s. 3d. a week, why does he not do it? Members of the Government, and their supporters say, "We cannot do all that we would like because we have not a majority, and the House of Commons would not support us." If he will bring in a Bill and show exactly how these houses can be built to be let at 3s. 3d. a week, we will hail him as the greatest financier of modern times.
If he does that I will vote for it, and no doubt, other hon. Members will vote for it and it will be carried unanimously. I sincerely ask him to show us how it can be done. This pamphlet is being used all over the country. Thousands of tenants are saying that if the Minister of 188 Health had his way he would build these houses and let them for a rent of 3s. 3d. a week. If he puts that forward as a serious proposition I challenge him to bring in a Bill, to let us know how he will do it and to give us the chance of supporting him. If we vote against him, he will be justified in saying what he likes against us in the country. If, on the other hand, he is perfectly incapable of bringing in any such Bill or explaining his language in any intelligible way he owes it to these millions of tenants, in whom he has raised false hopes which he will never be able to justify, to apologise for misleading them completely, and for making a speech which for sheer impossibility of defending has never been equalled by any Minister standing at that box.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
On a point of Order, I should like to ask, Mr. Speaker, on what principle has time been allocated for speeches in this Debate. We have had speeches from the Front Benches which—with the two speeches that Neill now be made by the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), upon whom you have called, and by the speaker who replies from the Government Bench—will have occupied four hours of the seven hours for this Debate. That leaves only three hours to be allocated among hon. Members who have at in this House since 2.30 p.m.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Unfortunately, I am not able to control the length of speeches—I wish I could. It is quite out of my power to control the length of speeches from the Front Benches. I only wish the Back Bench Members did get a better chance.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
On my point of Order. Seeing that the Front Benches have already stated their position, would it not be an act of grace on their part to withhold the reply front the Opposition Front Bench together with the further reply from the Government Bench, and allocate the remaining hour among hon. Members who have not spoken?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I can only suggest that hon. Members should treat this matter domestically in their various parties.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Are you aware, Mr. Speaker, that, the Gentlemen who have 189 spoken from the Government Front Bench, the Opposition Front Bench, and the Front Bench below the Gangway have all made speeches on this question of housing this Session, varying from 30 minutes to 40 minutes in duration? I have asked you to give me assistance in getting time to discuss the Motion standing in my name. We private Members cannot get an opportunity for arranging the time of the House.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I can assure hon. Members that nothing: would please me more than to hear more speeches from the back benchers. If they would give me assistance in the way I have suggested, we might get the desired result. [HON. MEMBERS: "We cannot get in!"]
§ Sir H. CRAIK
May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that a new custom has, arisen of hon. Members sitting upon the Front Opposition Bench, asserting their privileges as sitting upon the Front Bench, and then, when it suits them, taking seats upon the back benches, to speak also as back benchers. That is a new custom, and one that ought not to be encouraged. T have seen it done frequently—hon. Members sitting behind the Front Bench on occasion, and on other occasions taking their place on the Front Bench and claiming precedence.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Is there anything to prevent all Members who desire to speak upon this Bill having an opportunity of so doing if the Government will allocate sufficient time to enable hon. Members to express their opinions? Where there is so much difference of opinion, and where such important matters are to be discussed, the remedy lies not in checking an individual Member who is giving expression to his views and to the views of his constituents, but in the Government allocating sufficient time for the discussion to enable back-bench Members to speak.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
On a point of Order—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order"]—may I point out that the right hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding the whole position. I was not questioning this particular Debate, and the time that is being taken up. I was referring to a number of Debates. Private Members in this House have no chance whatever of taking part in any Debate when they have something particular to say. It occurs every day, and it, is time to stop it now.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
These are not points of Order, but I am not sorry that the point has been raised. My sympathies are all with the back benches, but I think hon. Members will find that the remedy is in their own hands.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I do not wish to stand in the way of hon. Members who wish to speak. The last six minutes have been very unpleasant minutes for myself. There is a very large number of Members who wish to speak. I have heard remarks by my hon. Friends below the Gangway agreeing with the remarks made on the opposite side, but I think it right that something should be said from the two Front Benches in regard to this Bill before we go to a Division on a matter which is of such great importance. Hon. Members opposite have been very kind to me, and I do not want to inflict myself on them.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member and his colleagues are always good to me, and perhaps in the few minutes during which I propose to speak the House will allow me to get on. The hon. Member for Withington (Mr. Simon) referred to the speech by the Minister of Health, which was published by the Labour party, with the reference in large type to the moneylenders who were charging 6s. 6d., those being the local authorities who were going to lend the money to enable those houses to be built. That was a very curious thing to do. He was coming clown to the House this afternoon to make an appeal to rise above party and debate this question from the non-party point of view. I do not think that, I have ever heard of a document of a more party character. When the right hon. Gentleman on the Government Bench asks us to rise above party, and vote in favour of a particular Measure, I notice that what it really means is, "Never mind what your party feelings are, but vote for my Measure." I should like to vote for the right hon. Gentleman's Measure, and would do so if I thought it right. I am going to ask the House to vote against, this Bill simply 191 because I believe it is not a good Bill, and will not achieve the object which the right hon. Gentleman has told us he has in view.
It would be so much easier for us in the country to pass this Bill. We shall have this speech of the right hon. Gentleman published, as it has been all over the country. We shall have a lot more speeches published. There will be every kind of misrepresentation made that the Tory party desire to kill a Bill which is going to produce houses. If I thought the Bill was going to produce houses I would vote for it, but because I do not think that it will do any such thing I am going to vote against the Bill. Just consider for a moment what the position would be if we passed this Bill without a Division to-night. If, as I think, it will not produce the houses and the scheme will have to be scrapped in the course of the next year or two—scrapped possibly by a Conservative Government—we should at once be open to the charge, which the right hon. Gentleman I feel sure would make, "You did not vote against the Bill. You thought it good enough to pass it. Now you have murdered it as soon as you get into office." This Bill will not die of murder by any Government which succeeds the present Government. It will die from inherent rickets at its birth. It is a rickety Bill. Its finance is rickety, it is rickety on the question of materials and rickety on the question of rent.
Those are the three points on which I addressed the House the other night, and on which I am going to address it again to-night. If I am wrong on these points, if the finance is sound finance, if the right hon. Gentleman can get the materials without raising the cost of building, and get the labour, and I am wrong, time will quickly prove it. If, on the other hand, the finance is bad, if you cannot get the materials without raising the cost of building, and you cannot get the labour at all, then it is a shame to pass the Bill and make people believe that you are going to get houses for them when you will net be able to get them at all. With regard to finance there have been various suggestions made this afternoon that some portion of the cost of these houses should be paid out of the present taxation so as not to throw the whole of it on to posterity. That is what the right 192 hon. Gentleman is doing. No one is going to be paid this year. There are only a few miserable hundreds of thousands of pounds this year, while in the course of 20 years some £30,000,000 a year will have to be paid by posterity, and not by those who are using the houses for the next few years.
I remember when I was a young man that there was a proceeding known among the young people, who were rather hard up, and who had no generous Chancellor of the Exchequer to come to their assistance, of what was called flying kites. That was passing off bills on to one another, and each of them sending those bills around the city and trusting to Providence that something would happen before the hills became due. The right hon. Gentleman is flying kites today. I am assuming for the moment that the scheme may work. He is not paying for his finance at all, and he is leaving it to posterity, to another Chancellor of the Exchequer, to find the necessary money, the necessary millions, to provide the enormous cost which, if the Bill is a success, will have to be found in the course of the next few years. The right hon. Gentleman has not said one single word in his speech, which lasted a considerable time this afternoon, in regard to the provision of the finance of this Bill. Then he has not said anything about the finance of the local authorities, which have to build these houses and have got to borrow the money. They will have to borrow during the next 15 years something. Like £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 a year. The local authorities will have to go into the money market in London and apply, to whoever will lend, to lend them £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 a year to build these houses. London itself Will hive to borrow about £10,000,000 a year for the next 12 or 15 years. No one on the Government Benches has made any suggestion as to how that it going to be done.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Possibly the right hon. Gentleman would like to do that too, that is when he is speaking on a Socialist platform in Glasgow, but not when he is appealing for the support of Conservatives in this House. He is bound to borrow, roughly, about £90,000,000 a year in order to spend it on 193 wages, in brick-works, and on various materials, and on the work of building the houses. That will inflate enormously the amount of money in circulation. It is bound to raise, not merely the price of building, but the price of everything, because there will be this enormous sum spread over the labour market on borrowed money which sooner or later has to be repaid.
With regard to local authorities in relation to the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman told us that he had swept out of the Bill what I regard as a very proper provision in the Act of last year, namely, that before the local authorities could build they were to see whether private enterprise could provide the houses. That, which is one of the safeguards against undue expenditure and recklessness on the part of local authorities, has gone. Now we ate to have a scheme, probably, to enlarge the size of the houses under the Bill. Speaking personally, I have a great deal of sympathy with it. The right hon. Gentleman has had a varied career on the subject of the size of houses. But it is only fair to say that I have ascertained that in London, where a very large amount of municipal building has taken place, 80 per cent: of the applications of people who want houses are for the smaller houses. I am told that one of the great evils of building houses too big is that the tenants, I will not say are bound, but are very often led to taking a lodger, and the worst cases of overcrowding occur in the slightly larger houses because of the letting to a lodger or to a second family. Clause 3 of the Bill prevents the local authorities selling the houses they build. That is a point on which the right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) and others join issue with the Government. He and they are so tied down by the Financial Resolution that, unless the Government choose to bring in another Resolution, they will not be able to alter that Clause at all and to get what we, on this side, as well as Members of the Liberal party, entirely believe in.
Why should not a municipal authority, when it has borrowed money to put up houses, instead of letting them all, sell some to thrifty working men who have saved money and desire to own their own houses? We know the reason. It is because that is flatly contrary to the Socialist views of the right hon. Gentle- 194 man the Minister of Health. It is quite true that he once made a remarkable statement in this House, and I wonder how he reconciles it with his action in this Bill. The statement was that he was in favour of house ownership. He told us that he owned his own house and that he would be delighted when the workers of the country owned their own houses. Why, then, has the right hon. Gentleman cut that provision out of this Bill altogether? Why has he prohibited the local authorities from selling some of their houses if they wish to do so? If it is good enough for the right hon. Gentleman to own his own house, it should be good enough for working men all over the country to own their own houses. Why this fierce and bitter hatred of ownership? The suggestion has been made that the right hon. Gentleman knows at least that the man who owns his own house will not be a Socialist [Laughter.] I was referring to working men. We occasionally get the eccentricities of men of greater wealth who own their own houses and still remain Socialists.
What is to be the effect of this finance? The right hon. Gentleman is pledged up to the hilt to the reduction of rents. What is going to happen under the provisions of this Bill? It is a Bill for raising rents, not for reducing them. The liability for any loss, instead of being put on the State, instead of being put on the local authority, is put on the tenant. When the London County Council has exhausted the £4 10s., the directions of the Bill are, that they shall put up the rents until they make the thing balance, or else, to use an Irish expression, they will have to stop building before they begin. The right hon. Gentleman's finance is founded on the idea of a £475 house. You cannot build it in London to-day at all. The houses being built by the London County Council are costing between £600 and £700, and the right hon. Gentleman's finance will not work in London, or, if it does work at all, will involve an actual rise in the rents of the houses now being built by the London County Council. That is shown by the instance of the Lewisham estate which is now being developed under the Act of 1919. That scheme will have to be altered, and the rents which the London County Council propose to charge will have to be 195 increased owing to the glorious operations of the right hon. Gentleman's Socialism. Another point is with regard to the rents of the 1923 houses. We questioned the right hon. Gentleman on that point during the last Debate, but he gave us no answer. On 23rd May the Association of Municipal Corporations wrote to the right hon. Gentleman insisting on a condition whereby the Government should make good any loss under the 1919 and 1923 Acts in consequence of the proposed legislation. He has' not told the House whether he is going to do that, or what his position is with regard to that request.
All the time that the right hon. Gentleman is putting forward this faulty scheme of finance, what is the position in regard to the Act passed by the Conservative party and brought in by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) '; No one has referred to the figures of this month given by the right hon. Gentleman in answer to a question to-day, but they are remarkable. I said 10 days ago that Act was doing well and I tell the House this evening it is doing better than when I spoke 10 days ago. The figures available then showed 133,000 houses approved by the various Ministers of Health, and in a month that figure has risen to 142,000. Ten days ago the figures showed 10,519 houses finished; during a month another 3,500 have been finished. There are now 14,000 houses finished under the provisions of the Conservative Act of 1923. There are 36,000 houses under construction and 14,000 roofed in. That is, 50,000 houses are well under way towards completion under the provisions of the Measure of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood [HON. MEMBERS: "How many for letting?"] The number for letting is presumably the number being built by the local authorities. The number of houses included in contracts or in approved direct labour schemes is 30,600. The number of houses under private enterprise is 57,225. In the case of 92,000 houses approved by the Minister, contracts have been entered into or arrangements in regard to finance have already been made.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I can tell the right hon. Gentleman from his own figures. There are under construction by the local authorities 12,752, and by private enterprise 26,750. In other words, private enterprise is doing for the right hon. Gentleman what the local authorities are not doing. Private enterprise has already got 50,000 houses built or building under the provisions of my right hon. Friend's Act of last year, and there are some 90,000 houses for which the finance is already approved. Then is it not absurd to say that that Act is not doing its work? It is doing its work well, and it is doing its work by utilising private enterprise and not trying to get all the schemes such as the right hon. Gentleman wants.
Now I will say a word in regard to the question of materials and labour. The right hon. Gentleman is giving a dole of 5s. a week to a certain selected class of tenants. That is all that he is doing. He is going to reduce the rent by 5s., to be paid for by other men who have not got his own particular houses. I have not time to speak about doles, but many a right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite has denounced doles as strongly as I could. The Government have increased them in one direction, and are now giving a definite dole here of 5s. a week in rent to certain subsidised tenants, to be paid for out of public funds, without any question of insurance at all, and that, I submit, is not only bad finance, but is really tending to act as a subvention to the employer of the particular men who live in these houses. It is a subvention towards the wages of the man who lives in a subsidised house, and you cannot get out of it in any other way than that. The scheme does more than that for it gives protection to the builder, to the manufacturer, and to the bricklayer. Colonial Preference was not very popular on the benches opposite a few nights ago, but this gives direct preference and protection out of State funds to a particular class of people, to a particular industry. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the laws of supply and demand, but he cannot help them. They will beat him in the long run. He may try everything he likes.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The right hon. Gentleman told us the Government 197 had taken every step to increase supplies, and that the essence of the Bill was a treaty with the building industry and a treaty with the local authorities. Where are those treaties? Everybody has asked. Let the right hon. Gentleman put them in the Bill. If there are treaties between the building trade and the Government on behalf of the nation, we are entitled to see them and have them in the Bill. I suggest to the House that the Treaty has not been signed. I suggest that, though the right hon. Gentleman is giving what amounts to a Parliamentary pledge to the building industry, though he is giving something in the nature of a Parliamentary pledge to the building trades union, he has got no corresponding pledge whatever from either of those parties. He has no pledge from the building trade. He produces a statement that the price of materials shall not go beyond that at the 1st January this year, but he admits that that takes no notice of any rise in wages. It does not deal with a rise in the cost of coal or in the cost of production, it does not deal with a thousand and one things, and, above all, it does not deal with a rise in the cost of imported materials. We have been told that we have this pledge from the building industry. That is where the night hon. Gentleman's scheme will fail, because he will not be able to get his houses built for £475. There is no margin to pay. The moment wages go up, the moment the cost of material goes up, and the moment the cost of imported material goes up, the £475 will be lost, and the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to get his houses built for anything like that.
I want to say one word with regard to labour. The right hon. Gentleman asked, how could he increase labour? The engineers were no good. He did not think much of bricklayers' labourers. It is submitted on all hands that every man in the building trade is employed to-day. There is not a bricklayer, slaterer or plasterer out of work to-night. [An HON MEMBER: "Yes!"] There are hardly any. I gave the House figures on the last occasion, and I am quite prepared to say those figures are true to-day. If the hon. Member will ask the Minister for a return, he will find that there are practically no bricklayers, slaterers of plasterers unemployed in the large centres of industry. The right hon. Gentleman has shuffled it all off on to the industry itself. We have 198 never had Parliament before dealing with an industry in this manner. He has got no pledge, no guarantee from them. He thinks that if they fail—and they will fail—Parliament is absolved. He will have ruined my right hon. Friend's scheme; he will have ruined the building of houses by private enterprise, and then he says, "If the building industry fails, I shrug my shoulders. I am no longer responsible. Parliament is absolved, and I am absolved." I say that Parliament will still be responsible. We shall still have the housing difficulty with us, and have to come back to Parliament and ask for some other method to try and find out how these things can be done.
A great deal depends on the Minister, and the views of the Minister, of which he has told us from time to time, in dealing with the housing question. Supposing some hundreds of thousands of houses are built by local authorities, is the right hon. Gentleman going to start a rent strike amongst them? We have had experience of it. He was one of the leaders of it in Glasgow. He told us in this House that he tried to get himself arrested. Before any Member in this House, particularly hon. Members below the Gangway, vote for this scheme, I want them to remember that the right hon. Gentleman is an out-and-out-opponent of the whole present system of society. I think he will be pleased if the building industry fail to implement their so-called agreement. [An HON. MEMBER,: "Play the game!"]
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Let me put it this way: If the building trade do nut carry out the agreement, which he thinks he has got with them, then we shall find him coming back to his old attitude of 1922–23. Then he will come down to the House with the pledges which he gave when he asked the people of Shettleson to elect him as their Member. I wonder, in face of his Election pledges, he proposes to keep up the rent 40 per cent. above the pre-War level. I have the right hon. Gentleman's Parliamentary Election address here. Let the House for a moment consider some of the points—The Coalition Government increased the rent of your dwelling-houses by 9s. 6d. in the pound. My Parliamentary opponent, and your opponent, is the Coalition candidate.199 That was a nasty one for the Coalition candidate.—Almost the first business of Parliament will be a new Rents Act, and if Mr. Wheatley is elected he will move that the rents be reduced to the 1914 level. His opponent is opposed to that policy.Another nasty knock for the opponent. Has the right hon. Gentleman reduced the rents? He has not attempted to reduce the rents. He is keeping the rents in his Bill before the House to-day to the 40 per cent. above the pre-War level. The right hon. Gentleman never breaks his promise—so we were told! That we know. This document before me says so—Mr. Wheatley never breaks his promise to the public.The temptation is very great to go on, and particularly in view of the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite—though desire that the right hon. Gentleman the Deputy-Leader of the House shall have time to reply. I am reading a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health in this House last year, and I am putting questions to his colleagues behind him in regard to their attitude.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Dealing with the Bill of the right hon. Member for Lady-wood last year the right hon. Gentleman opposite said:What are you doing with all your legislation? Why do you propose these boxes for the people? Are they inferior people? Are these people people who believe that Britain is a spent force?There is the hon. Member opposite, the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) Why does he not get up and ask his leader about the boxes he is providing to-day?
§ Mr. MAXTON
As the right hon. Gentleman opposite has given me the opportunity to intervene, I think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health was about the original houses proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and which were 150 superficial feet less than the houses in this Bill; but I agree with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member far Twickenham that my right hon. Friend is trying to anticipate to too great extent the possible opposition of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
May I take it that the Clyde is satisfied? If they are, I should like to ask whether the people there are less inferior to others? Are these people the very people who believe that Britain is a spent force?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am delighted to have that. I think we might have the hon. Member and several of his colleagues who are working with the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The Minister of Health is asking us to pass this Bill. I have put it to the House that the finance is bad, that the matter of materials it will raise the cost, and in labour the Bill will not produce a single house more than the Housing Bill of my right hon. Friend. [An HON. MEAMEE: "Mere assertion!"] It will do neither one nor the other. The Bill is a gigantic—I do not want to use the word fraud—but a gigantic farce to put before the people of this country in order to induce them to believe that the Labour party will get houses under the provisions of this scheme, while they will not get one.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I want to wind up so as to allow the hon. colleague of the right hon. Member to speak. What I say, in the first place, is that the finance is bad; secondly, it will put up the price of material; and thirdly, it will not get a single additional man. For these reasons I for one am not prepared to go into the Lobby in favour of the Second Reading, and I shall not abstain from voting against this Bill.
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Mr. Clynes)
Before the Parliamentary Secretary replies, I wish to say that the Government cannot assent to the suggestion which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) to the effect that, when this Bill receive a Second Reading, its Committee stage should be dealt with on the Floor of the House. Briefly, the reasons are these: Other Housing Bills have been dealt with upstairs, and I myself 201 last year refused to vote for keeping on the Floor of the House the Housing Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain). The Government have still got a heavy programme. We have to submit, either newly or in their second stages, Bills dealing with the questions of pensions, unemployment, factory laws, agricultural finance, and a further Housing Bill, relating to the possible action of trusts in connection with house construction.
If this Bill be kept on the Floor of the House, I want to inform hon. Members that we must sit far into the month of September. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] We are quite willing to do that. I only wish to remind the House that there is very little time left for actual legislation in the weeks during which the House will expect to sit before rising early in August. I trust, therefore, that the Motion will not be pressed after the Division has taken place on the Second Reading.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I confess to some astonishment, after the proceedings during the Committee and Report stages of the Financial Resolution, which was passed without a Division, that hon. Members and right hon. Members opposite should have felt it necessary to put down an Amendment to reject the Bill at this stage, because the White Paper issued prior to that discussion contained all the essential terms of the Bill, and hon. Members opposite must have known when they accepted the Money Resolution, as they did unanimously, that they were accepting the principle of the Bill. Now, when the House has the Bill before it, we are treated to an Amendment for its rejection. That, I say, is an astonishing thing, and I can only hope that hon. Members opposite, having made their demonstration, will go back to their former state of mind, and give to the Second Reading of the Bill the same approval which they gave to the Financial Resolution on which the Bill is based.
I have little time in which to follow the various speakers who have taken part in the Debate. Let me say, however, just a word or two about some of the statements made by my Noble Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), who enlarged upon the importance of the speculative builder, and who said that in the 202 scheme which has been put before the House, and in the agreement reached with the building industry, the speculative builder had taken no part. That, I may say, is not the fact, because the chairman of the organisation of speculative builders was a member, and an active member, of that Committee, and signed its Report. What interested me primarily in the speeches of the Noble Lord and of the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove (Captain Elliot), and in the subsequent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), was the Socialistic flavour which they imparted into their speeches. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings spoke of the existing Act as utilising the weight of a national policy with the living forces in the national life, whatever that may mean; and almost immediately after claiming this for his efforts, he went on to foreshadow a Socialistic proposal of a kind which might, perhaps, have emanated from these Benches, but which I never thought would emanate from the Benches opposite.
Briefly, what the Noble Lord proposes, if I understand him aright, is that there should be some centralised house-building organisation conducted under State auspices, organised as a State service, and running what would be in effect a huge State bureaucracy to solve the housing needs of the nation. That, I believe, is a scheme that meets with the approval of the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities goes even further, and suggests a scheme based upon a definitely Communistic principle. I ask those hon. Members, why did not they press these schemes last year? They had their opportunity. Then they were silent. Now that we accept the facts of the situation, accept the private building industry, and desire to utilise that industry to the fullest extent, we find ourselves opposed by proposals of a most outrageously Socialistic character, and strangers in the Gallery and the public outside might well wonder at the transformation which has taken place in the outlook of the Members of the party opposite.
References have been made to the treaties with labour and the local authorities. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove informed us that the treaty 203 with labour had "gone west." Other references to it have been made. We were asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) why it was not embodied in the Bill. My reply is that it is embodied in the Bill. The treaty with labour was a treaty to deliver so many houses. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not with labour, but the building trade."] The treaty with labour is, as a matter of fact, in the Bill. It is a treaty to deliver a certain number of houses per year over a period of time. That offer was made by the employers and the organised workpeople. As regards local authorities, the treaty with them is also embodied in the Bill. The central features of that treaty were the 15 years programme, the two rates of subsidy, and the contribution of the local authority. There are no secret agreements such as have been suggested during the Debate.
It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Twickenham that this scheme will fail in its finance and in its supply of labour. I fail to see in what particular the finance of this Bill differs from the present Act passed last year, except as regards the amounts of the subsidy. There is no other difference. The right hon. Gentleman argues that the finance is rickety. That clearly applies equally to the Act under which we are at present working. If he argues that the £9 every year for 40 years is a dole, so then is the £6 for 20 years a dole. If it is a subvention of wages, which I do not accept, the for 20 years was equally a subvention of wages. So far as finance is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman has adduced no argument that could not be applied to the Act at present in operation. Then he argued, as other Members have argued, as regards labour and materials, that we shall not find ourselves in a position to obtain the necessary supply. I think it is right to point out that under the present Act no active steps were taken to deal with these two problems. We have at least done our best to utilise the resources of the existing organisation to the full and procure an
§ adequate supply of both labour and materials. We believe that we shall come within measurable distance of realising all we hope to realise.
§ A good deal has been said about private-ownership, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Twickenham, quite unconsciously, I am sure, really misrepresented what was in the Bill. He said that under Clause 3 the local authorities are not allowed to sell their houses. He must know that that is not true. The Bill says that the local authorities shall not sell, except with the consent of the Minister, and it is clearly right that some measure of control should be kept over the disposal of houses built under the national scheme. We have done nothing whatever to modify in any way the Clause of the Act of last year with regard to the private building of houses for sale, except to extend its operation over the period covered by this Bill. Therefore, what appears to be the ideal of Members opposite, that people should be able to own their own house, is amply provided for under the Bill now before the House. Whatever you may do to promote that movement, and to continue to operate the present machinery, you are still faced with a very large number of people whose wages are too low, who are unacquainted with the operations of building societies, who would not know how to go about buying a house, who have always been accustomed to rent houses, and who still prefer to do so, and you must, therefore, make provision for them. I suggest such provision cannot be forthcoming if you continue to work with the subsidy at present in operation. We have made a really good bargain with the local authorities. Mans of t hem would have preferred a greater subsidy. We have made a compromise paying as little as we could and endeavouring to get from the local authorities the largest possible contribution. I hope the House will give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Question put, "That the words poposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 206.207
|Division No. 102.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Alden, Percy||Aske, Sir Robert William|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Attlee, Major Clement R.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Alstead, R.||Ayles, W. H.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Ammon, Charles George||Baker, Walter|
|Banton, G.||Hindle, F.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Barclay, R. Norton||Hirst, G. H.||Potts, John S.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Barnes, A.||Hodges, Frank||Raffety, F. W|
|Batey, Joseph||Hoffman, P. C.||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Rathbone, Hugh R.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Black, J. W.||Hudson, J. H.||Rea, W. Russell|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Isaacs, G. A.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Bonwick, A.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Richards, R.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Jewson, Dorothea||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Briant, Frank||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ritson, J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Bromfield, William||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Robertson, T. A.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Burnle, Major J. (Bootle)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Royle, C.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kedward, R. M.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Keens, T.||Scurr, John|
|Clarke, A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kenyon, Barnet||Sexton, James|
|Clynes, Right Hon. John R.||Kirkwood, D.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Lansbury, George||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Compton, Joseph||Laverack, F. J.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Law, A.||Short, Alfred (Wednesday)|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, John James.||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Leach, W.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Crittall, V. G.||Lee, F.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lessing, E.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lindley, F. W.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Linfield, F. C.||Snell, Harry|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lowth, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Phillip|
|Dickson, T.||Lunn, William||Spears, Brig.-Gen, E. L.|
|Dodds, S. R.||McCrae, Sir George||Spence, R.|
|Duckworth, John||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||McEntee, V. L.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Dukes, C.||Macfadyen, E.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Duncan, C.||Mackinder, W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Dennlco, H.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Stewart, Maj. R. S.(Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Maden, H.||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Egan, W. H.||March, S.||Sullivan, J.|
|England, Colonel A.||Marley, James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Finney, V. H.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kincardine, E.)||Terrington, Lady|
|Foot, Isaac||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Maxton, James||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Middleton. G.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Millar, J. D.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Mills, J. E.||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Gillett, George M.||Mitchell, R.M. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Thurtle, E.|
|Gorman, William||Mond, H.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Gosling, Harry||Montague, Frederick||Toole, J.|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Morel, E. D.||Tout, W. J.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Greenall, T.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Moulton, Major Fletcher||Varley, Frank B.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Muir, John W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)||Vivian, H.|
|Groves, T.||Murray, Robert||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murrell, Frank||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.||Warne, G. H.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyn Tydvil)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Nichol, Robert||Watts-Mortan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Nixon, H.||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Hardie, George D.||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Oliver, George Harold||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Whiteley, W.|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Owen, Major G.||Wignall, James|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Palmer, E. T.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hemmerde, E. G.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kennington)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Perry S. F.||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Phillipps, Vivian||Wilson, C H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfield)||Pilkington, R. R.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Windsor, Walter||Wright, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Wintringham, Margaret||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Spoor.|
|Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Ferguson, H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas. C.)||FitzRoy, Capt. Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Apsley, Lord||Frece, Sir Walter de||Penny, Frederick George|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Galbralth, J. F. W.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Gates, Percy||Perring, William George|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Plelou, D. P.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Rankin, James S.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Gretton, Colonel John||Reld, D. D. (County Down)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Guest, Capt. Hn. F. E. (Gloucstr., Stroud)||Remer, J. R.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Berry, Sir George||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Hartington, Marquess of||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vanslttart||Harvey, C.M.B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Russell, Alexander West- (Tynemouth)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Savery, S. S|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Burman, J. B.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J. E. B. (I. of W.)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hood, Sir Joseph||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Bellst)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, Northrn.)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Huntingfield, Lord||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lamb, J. Q.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Colfox, Major Wm, Phillips||Lane-Fox, George R.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Cope, Major William||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Vaughan Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lorimer, H. D.||Wells, S. R.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||MacDonald, R.||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||McLean, Major A.||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Meller, R. J.||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Dixon, Herbert||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Moles, Thomas||Wragg, Herbert|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Joseph|
|Elliot, Walter E.||Nesbitt, Robert C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Elveden, Viscount||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Commander B. Eyres-Monsell and|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House.—[Mr. Masterman.]208
§ The House divided: Ayes, 315; Noes, 175.213
|Division No. 103.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Dodds, S. R.||Laverack, F. J.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Doyle, N. Gratten||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Duckworth, John||Lessing, E.|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W.(Glas, C.)||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Linfield, F.C.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Lloyd, Cyrll E.(Dudley)|
|Apsley, Lord||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Ednam, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Eillot, Walter E.||Lorlmer, H. D|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Elveden, Viscount||Lowth, T.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||England, Colonel A.||Maltland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||McCrae, Sir George|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood||Falconer, J.||MacDonald, R.|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godtray||Macfadyen, E.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Ferguson, H.||McLean, Major A.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Finney, V. H.||Macnaghton, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||FitzRoy, Capt. Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Fletcher, Lieut-Com. R. T. H.||McNell, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Foot, Isaac||Madan, H.|
|Berry, Sir George||Forestier-Walker, L.||Makins, Brigadler-General E.|
|Betterton, Hentry B.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Mansel, Sir Courtenay|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Black, J. W.||Gaibralth, J. F. W.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kincardine, E.)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Gates, Percy||Mason, Lieut-Col. Glyn K.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Bonwick, A.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Meller, R. J.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Meyler, Lieut-Colonel H. M.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon Sir John||Millar, J. D.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gorman, William||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell R. M. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Mitchell W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Briant, Frank||Gretton, Colonel John||Moles, Thomas|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Guest, Capt. Hn. F. E. (Gloucstr., Stroud)||Mond, H.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Guinness, Lieut. Col Rt. Hon. W. E.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut- Col. J. T. C.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hall, Lieut- Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)|
|Burman, J. B.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Murrell, Frank|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Harbord, Arthur||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Harris, Percy A.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hartington, Marquess of||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harvey, C.M.B. (Aberd'n & Kincardine)||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbert. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Owen, Major G.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Pease, William Edwin|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Hindle, F.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Perring, William George|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Philipson, Mabel|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hood, Sir Joseph||Pielou, D. P.|
|Cockerill, Brigadler-General G. K.||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Pilkington, R. R.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Raffety, F. W.|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rankin, James S.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, Northrn.)||Rathbone, Hugh R.|
|Cope, Major William||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Rawlison, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Huntingfield, Lord||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jones, Henry Haydn, (Merioneth)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Robertson, T. A.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Kedward, R. M.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Keens, T.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kenyon, Barget||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Deans, Richard Storry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sandeman A. Stewart|
|Dixey, A. C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Dixon, Herbert||Lane-Fox, George R.|
|Savery, S. S.||Stranger, Innes Harold||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Webb Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Stuart Lord C. Crichton||Wells, S. R.|
|Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Seely RT. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J.E.B. (I. of W.)||Sunlight, J.||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Wilson Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Winthingtn.)||Terrington, Lady||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Simpson J. Hope||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Wintrigham, Margaret|
|Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Calthness)||Thompson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unly., Belfst)||Thompson, Trevelyan (Middiesbro, W.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Thompson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Wood Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)||Thornton, Maxwell R.||Wood Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Tichfield, Major the Marquess of||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wragg, Herbert|
|Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Spero Dr. G. E.||Vivlan, H.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Starmer, Sir Charles||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth|
|Steel, Samuel Strang||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Warrender, Sir Victor||Mr. Vivian Phillips and Mr. Walter Rea.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Palmer, E. T.|
|Adamson W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Alden, Percy||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Perry, S. F.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Haycock, A. W.||Pethick Lawrence, F. W.|
|Alstead, R.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hendersaon, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Potts, John S.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Henderson, T. (Galsgow)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfield)||Richards, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, G. H.||Ritson, J.|
|Banton, G.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hodges, Frank||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Barnes A.||Hoffman, P. C.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, J. H.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Bondfield Magaret||Isaacs, G. A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jackwson R. F. (Ipswich)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jenkins, W. (Galmorgan, Neath)||Scurr, John|
|Bromfield, William||Jewson, Dorothea||Sexton, James|
|Buchanan, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Johnston, Thomas (Stirlling)||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Shinwell Emanuel|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Clarke, A.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kirkwood, D.||Snell, Harry|
|Compton, Joseph||Lansbury, George||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Law, A.||Spence, R.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Crittall, V. G.||Lawson, John James.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Leach, W.||Stewart, J. (St Rollox)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lee, F.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Dickson, T.||Lindley, F. W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Dukes, C.||Lunn, William||Sutton, J. E.|
|Duncan, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dunnico, H.||McEntee, V. L.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Egan, W. H.||March, S.||Toole, J.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Marley, James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Maxton, James||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Middleton, G.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Mills, J. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Gillett, George M.||Montague, Frederick||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Morel, E. D.||Warne, G. H.|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watts-Mortan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Greenall, T.||Muir, John W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Murray, Robert||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Naylor, T. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nichol, Robert||Whiteley, W.|
|Groves, T.||Nixon, H.||Wignail, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Hardie, George D.||Paling, W.|
|Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kennington)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Windsor, Walter|
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||Wright, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Spoor and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.